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Report: NBA could play 50-game season if players don’t agree to Dec. 22 start

Trail Blazers big Caleb Swanigan

PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 23: Caleb Swanigan #50 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on in the second quarter during his first game as a Portland Trail Blazer against the Dallas Mavericks during their game at Moda Center on January 23, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. 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 Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

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The NBA wants to play a 72-game season beginning Dec. 22.

Players are balking at starting so soon.

So, the league is making threats – like a 50-game season.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This would explain the $500 million difference between starting Dec. 22 and starting later (most likely Martin Luther King Day [Jan. 18]). The union can and should check the league’s math. But the basic principle holds true: More games, more money.

If the priorities are finishing the season by the Tokyo Olympics (which are scheduled to begin July 23) and starting the following season in October, beginning later would leave less time for games.

But shortening the season by 27 days would mean each team plays 22 fewer games? That doesn’t add up. This sounds like an exaggerated threat by the NBA.

Of course, the NBA also has a very-real card in its hand – terminating the Collective Bargaining Agreement and causing a lockout.

Most likely, things won’t devolve that far. The system ties owners and players with split revenue. Both sides just showed strong cooperation with the bubble.

Today is the deadline for terminating the CBA. Players will probably allow that deadline to be pushed back again. A deal could be reached soon.

But each day, it becomes more difficult to maximize the number of games (i.e., the amount of revenue) next season. Both sides are negotiating through the media.

It’s getting more tense.