Reports surfaced on Nov. 4 that the NBA and its players were voting on a proposal to start the season before Christmas day. Now the parties have reached an agreement. The 2020-21 season will officially begin on Dec. 22 and will run for 72 games in a shortened schedule.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the National Basketball Players Association board of representatives voted on Nov. 5 to approve the start date. This vote cleared the path for the league and the union to hammer out the details surrounding the NBA Draft, free agency and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. "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," the NBPA said in a statement.
Wojnarowski reported at the time of the vote that the league and the NBPA needed to negotiate the financial terms of an amended CBA. They would discuss rises in the escrow withholding on players' salaries to account for "severe losses" in league revenue due to COVID-19. Monday night, the two parties reached an agreement in principle
"The two sides also came up with a compromise on the escrow system to spread the losses out across multiple seasons," Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday. "The typical escrow withholding of 10% will remain in place. If there is a need to reduce player salaries by more than that 10%, that loss will be spread out over that season, as well as the following two -- and players can never have more than 20% of their salary withheld in a single season." Additionally, the league will decrease each team's luxury tax bill at the end of the 2021 season by the same percentage that the NBA's Basketball Related Income declines from initial projections.
With the CBA agreements and the set start date, the teams and players can begin truly preparing for the upcoming season. The NBA Draft will take place on Nov. 18, bringing many potential stars into the league. Two days later, free agency will begin. The shortened offseason will lead to the start of training camps on Dec. 1, as well as the first games on Dec. 22.
The Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers just ended their respective seasons on Oc. 11 after meeting in the NBA Finals. These two teams will now have to prepare for the next season quickly while other squads, such as the Golden State Warriors, had a much longer offseason. Those teams that did not qualify for the NBA restart in Orlando did not play any games beyond mid-March. Now they will get back into action in mid-December.