Vote Scheduled This Week on Start of NBA Season

The delayed 2019-20 NBA season finished Oct. 11 in a bubble in Orlando, Fla. When the 2020-21 season will begin is up for debate, and the league is hoping for a resolution this week.

The National Basketball Players Association plans to vote late this week on a start date with two options. The first option gives the league a start on Dec. 22, which would allow the league to be featured on Christmas Day as is customary. The second option is to start on or around Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

It has been widely reported that the league’s television partners are clamoring for the December start as the multiple games on Christmas Day are traditionally a huge ratings boost. The earlier start would also allow for the league to conclude early enough for the league’s players to participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The decision will also determine the length of the regular season, as a December start likely means a 72-game schedule with the regular season ending in mid-May. In this scenario, there would be a play-in tournament for the Nos. 7-10 seeds in both conferences, with the NBA Finals ending around July 20.

In the January start scenario, there will likely be 60 games in the regular season, which would end in June. There is a possibility of a 72-game season starting in January, but that would likely not allow NBA players to participate in the Olympics with the playoffs continuing into August.

Offseason Schedule

What we do know heading into this week’s players association vote is that the NBA Draft is scheduled for Nov. 18. The draft will be conducted at ESPN’s facilities in Bristol, Conn., through video conferencing and televised on ESPN. This will be the first NBA Draft not held in June since 1975.

The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the top pick in the draft, with the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers rounding out the top five.

Free agency is expected to begin after the draft and could start as soon as Nov. 20. A later start date might push that back, but if the Dec. 22 start date is selected, training camps will open the first week of the month.

Championship Odds

Before teams get into free agency, trades and draft picks, odds are already available for the 2020-21 NBA Championship.

The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis, are +380 to repeat. They share Staples Center with the LA Clippers, who are +450 with new coach Tyronn Lue, who just took over for Doc Rivers.

The first favorite from the Eastern Conference is the Milwaukee Bucks (+600), led by two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Brooklyn Nets, expecting to get Kevin Durant in uniform finally, are next in the East at +1000, followed by the Boston Celtics at +1200.

The Golden State Warriors look to have injured players Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson completely healthy again, and they are +1000 in the West. The last two Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat (+1600) and Toronto Raptors (+2000), round out the top eight favorites.