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Report: NBA priority for next season? Starting 2021-22 season in October

Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes and 76ers center Joel Embiid

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 13: Jaxson Hayes #10 of the New Orleans Pelicans and Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers in action at the Wells Fargo Center on December 13, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 76ers defeated the Pelicans 116-109. 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 Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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The NBA wants to play 82 games in home arenas with fans present next season. Which, sure. That’d be nice.

But coronavirus looms and could continue to limit revenue.

Maybe not the following season, though.

Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports:

The focus for next season, primarily, is getting things finished in a reasonable amount of time for the draft, free agency and rest in the summer of 2021 for a traditional mid-October start.

Apparently never mind about regularly beginning the season in December.

This points to next season starting sooner than later. Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18) is the hot rumor. But the season could begin earlier in January – or even as early as Christmas. Later dates like March seem increasingly farfetched, as does pausing for the Olympics.

At this point, it seems everyone is realizing next season will be impacted regardless. Better to avoid future complications.

But even if the season begins on Christmas, that’s off kilter by more than two months for a normal mid-October start. The NBA would have fewer than 10 months to complete a calendar that usually takes a full a year. There are three potential solutions:

  • Reduce the number of games
  • Reduce the number of off days during the season
  • Reduce the length of the offseason

Reducing the number of games would be the most directly financially harmful. Reducing off days, during and/or after the season, poses health risks.

So, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes multiple years to cycle back to normal. The NBA could shave a few days from the offseason each year rather than cutting two-plus months in a single year.

But the goal is apparently to get back on track around this time next year. As long as that remains the case, something has to give to shorten the typical year-long calendar by at least two months.