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NBA tells owners next season will not start until Christmas as earliest

NBA commissioner Adam Silver

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA - AUGUST 19: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver looks on during action between the Dallas Mavericks and the LA Clippers in game two of the first round of the NBA playoffs at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 19, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 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. (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

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The moment it was announced the NBA hoped to start next season on Dec. 1, a lot of eyebrows were raised around the league. That date made for a very short offseason, and there was little to no chance fans could be in the buildings to watch games. Soon enough, commissioner Adam Silver was backing off that date.

Now the inevitable has happened. Days after announcing that the 2020 NBA Draft would be pushed back to Nov. 18 and the start of free agency be delayed as well, the league told owners Thursday the earliest possible start date for next season is Christmas Day, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The official start date has yet to be set.

What will that date be? As has been the case with all things pandemic, there are no easy answers. Everything is a compromise.

Some owners are willing to push back the start of next season into February or later in hopes of getting more games with fans in the building — Silver said 40% of league revenue comes from fans in arenas. Complicating a late start would be scheduling problems, including the Tokyo Olympics in July — where dozens of NBA players would compete on a huge international stage — and the season running so late the league struggles to get back on a preferred schedule for the 2021-22 season.

No NBA on Christmas would seem wrong.

As he has done every step of the way through the pandemic, expect Adam Silver to be patient, gather as much information as he can, and not make a decision until he has to. It’s how he operates. It’s also worked so far.

But the questions will just get harder for Silver.