At his annual NBA All-Star press conference, league commissioner Adam Silver expressed optimism the NBA will be back to normal, or close to it, by next season.
"The plan remains to resume our season as close to so-called normal as possible next year," said Silver. "I'm fairly optimistic at this point we will be able to start on time and that we... are hopeful we'll have relatively full arenas next season as well."
NBA teams haven't played in front of a full NBA arena since March 11, 2020, when the 2019-20 season was suspended after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The league would not return until July when the NBA partnered with Disney to create a bubble in Orlando, FL to finish out the season.
During the 2020-21 NBA season, games have been played largely in front of no fans with select markets allowing limited capacity. Portland has yet to allow fans at any of its games.
The NBA commissioner stated the decision to end the 2020-21 season stems from both the summer Olympics and to get back on the original NBA calendar.
"One of the reasons in setting the schedule this year we decided to stop in mid-July. We both wanted to allow those players who wanted to participate in the Olympics to do so but in addition, if we wanted to get back on the cycle and the players were going to get the appropriate downtime before the season began, we didn't want to go deep into the summer or fall as we did last season."
Silver added there are no plans to force NBA players to get vaccinated and that players do not need to be vaccinated to allow fans back into the arenas.
There are no plans to travel internationally next season with it resuming the following season, at the earliest. In previous preseasons, NBA teams had played exhibition games in China among other countries.