The National Basketball Association is considering pushing back the start of the 2020-21 season to December as a possible solution to buy more time to complete the 2019-20 campaign this year.
According to ESPN, the issue – which has gained growing support from team owners – was discussed by NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s board of governors on May 1.
The NBA board of governors also decided to indefinitely postpone the NBA Draft and Combine, which were scheduled to be held in Chicago this month, as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The discussions to delay the 2020-21 season are also focused on the aim to get as many paying spectators to games as possible next campaign, assuming the health crisis subsides.
“If you start in December, that doesn’t mean the people are coming back in December, but maybe they’re back by March,” a source told ESPN.
The NBA remains indefinitely suspended and is exploring multiple ways of resuming action. The league has revised its timetable to allow individual workouts at team facilities to begin no earlier than May 8.
The National Hockey League is also considering starting its 2020-21 season as late as December.
The league previously said it did not anticipate an extension or lengthening of the currently suspended 2019-20 season would preclude a normal schedule for the following year. But as the public health crisis has continued and grown, the NHL is now thinking more broadly about timing as safety remains the prime consideration.
“We have a great deal of flexibility in terms of when we can start,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. “There’s no magic for next season of starting in October as we traditionally do. If we have to start in November or December, that’s something that will be under consideration. We’re going to try to make good, prudent, careful judgments. This isn’t a race to be first back.”