Bulls

NBA, NBPA agree to begin 2020-21 season on Dec. 22

Bulls

Stop the presses. We have a start date for the 2020-21 NBA season.

Thursday evening, the NBPA announced it has "tentatively" voted to approve the NBA-proposed Dec. 22 start date for the 2020-21 season and play a shortened 72-game schedule.

In such a scenario, it's been widely reported that training camps will tip off Dec. 1. The 2020 NBA Draft is slated for Nov. 18 and free agency will likely take place shortly thereafter.

Though that’s a fast turnaround from the NBA Finals wrapping on Oct. 11, the league has maintained that the financial advantages to a December start would be massive. A plan that preserves the NBA’s Christmas Day showcase, wraps up the 2021 Finals before the Tokyo Olympics in July and gets the league schedule back on its original October-to-June track for the 2021-2022 season could be worth $500 million to $1 billion, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has reported.

There remain hurdles to clear -- as the union's statement says, "additional details remain to be negotiated" -- including hammering out health and safety protocol and finalizing potential modifications to the CBA, the latter of which are expected to be settled next week, according to Wojnarowski:

The salary cap is expected to hold near $109 million, and the percentage of player salaries held in escrow around "17 to 18 percent" for the next two years, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania:

Charania previously reported the framework for a 72-game season beginning Dec. 22 while talks were still ongoing. Then, the plan was said to include “three-to-four” preseason games, a six-day All-Star break in early March, the regular season concluding May 16, the playoffs beginning May 22 (with a play-in tournament for the Nos. 7-10 seeds occurring just before) and the Finals finishing July 22.

 

The league aims to play games in home markets, but will reduce travel by 25 percent, per Charania’s report. The 2020-21 schedule will feature 14 back-to-backs for each team.

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The Bulls last played March 10, the night before the NBA suspended its season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, they’ve overhauled their front office and hired a new head coach in Billy Donovan (who is fast filling out his staff). 

After an eight month layoff, there will be rust to shake off. And for freshly-minted leadership, it’s a tight window to build relationships, preparedness and the Bulls’ roster itself up for the start of a crucial campaign for the rebuild.

Next up is the draft, followed by free agency. The league has already allowed teams to open their facilities for group workouts up to 10 players.

Shortly — and we mean shortly — thereafter, let the games begin.