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Lakers’ Jared Dudley: 50-game NBA season ‘hard no for the players’

Lakers forward Jared Dudley

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 11: Jared Dudley #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers walks out to the arena before Game Six of the NBA Finals on October 11, 2020 in Orlando, Florida at AdventHealth Arena. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Jim Poorten/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA said next season would begin Christmas at the earliest, more likely in 2021. February appeared most likely. March drew mention, too.

Now, the league wants to begin Dec. 22.

Players, according National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, largely oppose the plan. A faction of players, including stars, prefer to wait until Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18).

But the NBA has reportedly indicated it could play just 50 games if starting starting that late. It’d be 72 games with a Dec. 22 start.

Lakers forward Jared Dudley:

A 50-game season is undesirable for everyone. Owners and players split revenue about 50-50. In simplest terms: more games, more revenue.

But players – not owners – just spent lengthy stints in the bubble. Players – not owners – would have to face the physical and mental toll of resuming so quickly.

Owners can sit back and count the money.

So, it’s understandable players oppose such a quick turnaround. For many, starting a 72-game season Dec. 22 would be exhausting. (For another group of players, the layoff has already been too long.)

Unfortunately for players whose teams just made deep playoff runs, a prompt start is the way to maximize revenue.

For too long, the NBA aimed to get fans in arenas next season. The coronavirus pandemic makes that incredibly difficult. As that reality set in, the league shifted its priority to television. That means playing a separate opening night, playing on Christmas and finishing before the Olympics.

This should have been the plan all along – or at least communicated as a potential option to players. It is jarring to expect a later start then suddenly get told to report to work sooner.

But, again, that is the way to make the most money.

It’s also a way to get the following season back on track – which will both maximize the money of that season and get players their summers off again.

As much as the league deserves criticism for setting one expectation then defying it, players might have a tough time rejecting the Dec. 22 72-game plan.