Stacy Revere/Getty Images
The NBA is reportedly “wary” of any further delay to the 2020-21 season, which is slated to begin in December after the shortened 2019-20 campaign ends in October amid the coronavirus pandemic, because the schedule could then overlap with the 2021 Summer Olympics.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported the update Friday, noting the current calendar features “little to no wiggle room” in order to finish both seasons while also keeping star players available for the Tokyo Games.
For now, the projected schedule calls for 22 of the league’s 30 teams to arrive in Florida starting July 7 after a set of individual training sessions in their home cities. That would be followed by a 20-day training camp and then an eight-game finish to the shortened regular season.
Possible play-in tournaments to determine the final playoff teams would happen Aug. 15-16 followed by the postseason starting Aug. 17. The last possible date for the 2020 NBA Finals is Oct. 13.
That timeline is based on no further pauses to play, whether it be trouble finalizing return-to-play agreements or a COVID-19 situation that arises once play resumes.
The path forward remains unsettled after the Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving made an “impassioned plea” for players to sit out the rest of the 2019-20 season for several reasons, including the healthy and safety of the players and the ongoing social justice movement in the United States and around the world, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Where it leads the NBA now remains unclear,” Wojnarowski wrote. “Even after the call, there was still a belief within the league that the NBA would have the players’ support it needed to resume the season, but no one could be as sure as they seemed to be a mere week ago.”
Several players spoke out Friday after conflicting reports about the safety measures that would be expected from Disney employees who’d be working alongside the NBA should play resume in Orlando.
The sides have less than a month to finalize the path forward if training camps are going to begin July 9.
Meanwhile, the Olympics were postponed from 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said in April if the Games can’t be held next summer, they would be wiped off the schedule completely.
“No, in that situation, it will be canceled,” he said. “In the past, when there were such problems, like wartime, it has been canceled. This time, we are fighting an invisible enemy. This is a gamble for mankind. If the world triumphs over the virus and we can hold the Olympics, then our Games will be so many times more valuable than any past Olympics.”
The Opening Ceremony is scheduled for July 23, 2021.