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Reports: NBA set to return on Dec. 22 after NBPA approves vote

Phoenix Suns' Devin Booker dribbles against the Los Angeles Clippers during an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)

The National Basketball League’s Players Association (NBPA) has approved the league’s plan for a 2020-21 season that would begin on Dec. 22 in a reduced 72-game schedule, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“The Board of Player Representatives of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) has tentatively approved a start date of December 22, 2020, for the 2020-2021 NBA season and a 72-game schedule,” the NBPA said in a statement. “Additional details remain to be negotiated and the NBPA is confident that the parties will reach agreement on these remaining issues relevant to the upcoming season.”

With that date, training camps will begin on Dec. 1, a little under two weeks after the NBA Draft on Nov. 18 and free agency shortly thereafter. That leaves no time for the NBA Summer League, or the traditional two-and-a-half month break the league goes on after that when the true offseason begins for all teams. Wojnarowski reports the league’s moratorium will be lifted “shortly prior” to the draft, allowing the league to commence trades for the first time in nearly nine months.

The quick turnaround by the league is partially motivated by a desire to avoid a matchup with the Olympics for television ratings. The 2020-21 season would end in mid-to-late July, with the Olympics set to begin on July 23. With that, the league could also reset back to the normal year-to-year schedule of beginning in October and concluding in June.

Per Wojnarowski, this sense of urgency comes from a $500 million to $1 billion increase in revenue that could be affected even if the league were to start a few weeks later in January.

The rapid nature of the transition will certainly affect playoff teams the most, and those that stayed in Orlando’s bubble at Walt Disney World the longest. The 22 teams arrived in mid-to-late July and the NBA Finals concluded in mid-October, meaning the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat spent over three months in the bubble after the pre-pandemic portion of the 2019-20 season had already lasted five months.

Teams like the Phoenix Suns, however, were in Orlando for just a month after not making the postseason and were back home in mid-August.

The Suns have yet to release any recent updates on the status of their new practice facility or the progress made on renovations to Talking Stick Resort Arena, both of which were impacted by the pandemic.

Suns owner Robert Sarver said in June on The Outlet podcast with Lindsey Smith that the practice facility was to be up and running by early September and that 70% of the total renovations would be completed this year at TSRA, as opposed to the pre-pandemic estimated 50% before the start of the 2020-21 season.

While those two projects remain underway, Suns players have been using the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum to work out in the offseason, the building they had also been using prior to leaving for the NBA bubble.


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