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Next NBA Season Could Be Delayed Until 2021

Ross Everett
by in NBA on
  • The 2019-2020 NBA regular season was suspended on March 12 after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver initially set a tentative start date of December 1 for the 2020-2021 season.
  • Following an outcry of skepticism about Silver’s target date he’s now admitting that a 2021 start is more likely.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hasn’t come right out and said that next season won’t begin until 2021–he’s given more to equivocation and speculation than decisive action and emphatic statements–but he might as well have. After setting a tentative start date of December 1, 2020 for the 2020-2021 NBA season Silver has admitted that a 2021 start is more likely.

Silver made these statements in a recent interview with CNN. As is his norm, they were couched with weasel terms like ‘best guess’ but the takeaway is that not only is the December 1 start date not going to happen neither is the speculated December 25 Christmas Day start date. Here’s how ESPN translated Silver’s statements:

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 he then said that as more coronavirus-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 he 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.

To be fair, Silver initially told ESPN a similar timeframe back on August 20 but in the same inscrutable doublespeak as he told CNN:

“I’d say Dec. 1, now that we’re working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me,” Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols before the NBA draft lottery on Thursday night.

“I think our No. 1 goal is to get fans back in our arenas. … So my sense is, in working with the players’ association, if we could push back even a little longer and increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”

As if Silver’s CNN interview could be made even more miserable…Bob Costas is doing the interviewing. Here’s the full thing just in case you’re a masochist or you run out of NyQuil and need help getting to sleep tonight:

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