Warriors

NBA rumors: Warriors could start season as late as March if fans allowed

Warriors

The Warriors last played on March 10, losing to the Los Angeles Clippers 131-107 at Chase Center a day before the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus.

It reportedly could be as long as a year before they get back in the win column.

While the NBA still is targeting a Dec. 1 start date for the 2020-21 season, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday morning that the league could push back the beginning of next season if there was "a level of confidence that a delay would ultimately result in the reopening of arenas to the public." Wojnarowski reported that opening the season on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18), and potentially as late as February or March, provided "a combination of vaccines, therapeutics and rapid-response-testing" reach a point where public gatherings are possible.

Allowing fans in stadiums and arenas falls under Phase 4 of San Francisco and California's reopening plans. Neither the city nor the state has cleared Phase 2. San Francisco remains on California's watchlist, and the state became the first in the country to have over 500,000 positive tests just under three weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back plans to reopen California's economy.

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The NBA could hold games in practice facilities if the season starts in December, and potentially neutral-site games if some cities allow fans to attend games. Wojnarowski reported that teams playing in cities that don't allow fans in the stands could even move their operations to other cities that do.

Since the NBA first suspended its season, nearly 5 million Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 160,000 have died. Public-health experts and officials are concerned about the coronavirus' spread worsening in the fall as students return to schools, the weather gets colder and more people spend more time indoors and some cities and states continue not to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institue of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said earlier this week the country must decrease its daily case count to 10,000 by September in order to control the coronavirus' spread. The United States had over 60,000 new cases on Friday.

"If we don't get them down, then we're going to have a really bad situation in the fall," Fauci said.

Wojnarowski reported that the NBA, as a result, is considering regional bubbles for next seasons. In one idea Wojnarwoski mentioned, teams would play in a bubble for a month, return to their own cities for up to two weeks and then move to a new bubble with a different group of teams.

[RELATED: Warriors in Orlando bubble reportedly a 'non-starter' for NBPA]

If the NBA's priority becomes a reality, the Warriors would've gone 266 days between regular-season games.

The wait to play again in front of their fans will be much longer than that, and the league seems to be bracing for that likelihood.