NBA commissioner Adam Silver says his “best guess” is that the league will not begin its next season until 2021, emphasizing that “the goal is to play a standard season.”
Silver discussed the NBA’s plans for the 2020-21 season amid the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday as part of a wide-ranging interview with CNN.
The NBA announced earlier this year that the tentative start date for the 2020-21 season was Dec. 1, but Silver acknowledged last month that the date was “feeling a little bit early to me.”
Silver said Tuesday that the NBA had hoped as recently as a week ago that “the earliest we would start is Christmas of this year,” but then said that as more virus-related information becomes available, he believes that the league will “be better off getting into January.”
Silver clarified that a “standard season” would include an 82-game regular season and full postseason and noted that “the goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans.”
“But there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example,” Silver said. “Would that be a means of getting fans into our buildings? Will there be other protections?”
Silver said the NBA is “clearly learning a lot from other sports,” citing COVID-19 protocols being used by Major League Baseball, the NFL and major college sports programs.
“There’s lots of new information out there in the marketplace that we’re looking to absorb,” he said.
The NBA already has delayed the date of the 2020 draft to Nov. 18, which allows the league and players’ union to negotiate amendments to the collective bargaining agreement and agree on 2020-21 salary cap and luxury tax thresholds.
Silver has previously said roughly 40% of the league’s once-projected $8 billion in revenue is tied to having fans in arenas.