While the NBA has yet to resume the 2019-2020 season, the league is already looking at several plans on how and when it will start the 2020-2021 season. Initial plans were to start next season on Dec. 1, but the league could also start in March. Morning Consult obtained an NBA document that shows the NBA Global Innovation Group is contemplating several options, including a March-October season.
That March start date would rely on a “path to a coronavirus vaccine…that increases the likelihood that its teams could host fans in their home arenas.” However, if the season started in March it would need to balance fan-driven revenue vs. splitting media attention with the 2021 Olympic Games – and a likely pause in the season so players could participate.
Players and owners are also getting ready to modify the CBA, setting a September deadline for a new agreement. Approximately 40% of the league’s projected $8.4 billion in revenue came from ticket revenue, concessions, and other gameday-related income. Players have guaranteed contracts of $4 billion next year, so with no fans or even limited crowds, there will be a significant gap to make up. “This CBA was not built for an extended pandemic,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told players.
While the league approved a list of social justice messages for players to wear on their jerseys, its biggest star won’t be wearing one. LeBron James said the approved messages “didn’t really seriously resonate with my mission.”
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley wrote a letter to Silver saying the league shouldn’t limit the social justice messaging to select approved messages, while also questioning the league’s motives. ESPN’s NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski sent a profane message to Hawley in response, leading the network to suspend him for two weeks without pay. Several players, including James, supported Wojnarowski on social media following his suspension.