If the NBPA approves a Dec. 22 start date for the 2020-21 season, Dec. 1 has emerged as a "likely" opening date for training camps, Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Monday evening.
That's... really soon. The 2019-20 NBA season concluded Oct. 11. The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for Nov. 18. Free agency doesn't have a set date. Two teams (Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder) don't have head coaches!
And yet, teams could be convening to prepare for the start of next year in just over a month.
Why? A few reasons. Moving up the start of the 2020-21 season and cramming a shortened slate from December 2020 through June 2021 would put the NBA back on its regular schedule track by the 2021-22 campaign, when full-capacity arenas may be closer to reality. The league reportedly believes starting earlier may net it $500 million than starting later. Christmas provides a prime platform for games after disappointing 2019-20 postseason from a TV ratings perspective. The list goes on.
The risks are bountiful too — from increased injury potential for players, especially on teams coming off deep 2020 playoff runs, to increased potential to spread COVID-19 outside of a bubble environment (the United States hit a record high for new COVID-19 cases Oct. 23 and winter is coming).
Add in negotiations to modify the current CBA, which are currently scheduled to conclude on Oct. 30 at the latest, and it's a lot to sift through in a short period of time.
But the NBA is evidently going to try, and it's proven an acumen for impossible logistical feats with the bubbled 2019-20 season restart, which was initially met with widespread skepticism, yet ended with a champion crowned and zero COVID-19 cases recorded among players, staff and media.
Keep in mind: While considerable momentum appears to be building toward a Dec. 22 start date, the league and NBPA will need to agree on any proposal set forth.
If they do, basketball could be back soon enough. The Bulls, for their part, haven't suited up since March but have a few items to address before the start of the 2020-21 season. New head coach Billy Donovan has a staff to fill out and a play style to craft. The team owns the No. 4 and 44 overall picks in the draft, and will have the mid-level exception to toy with in free agency.
All of which is to say, buckle in.