It’s official: The NBA is coming back Dec. 22. The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved Tuesday the financial terms and other parameters that were negotiated between the league and its players. Those talks were completed late Monday night, when the league and National Basketball Players Association announced they are in agreement on a revised collective bargaining agreement for this coming season — setting the stage for a frenzied few weeks before games resume.
Sources also said that, in an attempt to ease the tax burdens of teams that had been planning on the salary cap and luxury tax continuing to steadily rise, the NBA will reduce the luxury tax bill for teams at the end of the 2021 season by the percentage amount that the league's basketball-related income (BRI) declines from initial projections.
Owners and players worked out a deal approved Monday night on when to start the season, its length, and other details. Teams are expected to be limited to 25 to 50 percent of suite capacity (driven by local market health safety rules), and there could be some fans sitting courtside (but further from the hardwood than normal), and some lower bowl seating, too, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
The loss of five home games for every club translates into an average of $13.5 million per team in lost revenue from just fans, or $405 million collectively for all 30 clubs, according to new calculations from Chicago-based sports business intelligence firm Team Marketing Report.
Ian Begley: NBA says its Board of Governors unanimously approved the CBA changes previously agreed to by the league and the NBPA: pic.twitter.com/TpHpKXFAZf
Andy Larsen: Jazz just sent out this statement from team president Jim Olson. pic.twitter.com/j93VfDRJKT
Brandon Rahbar: Thunder will have fans in The Peake this season. No word yet on if they’ll have a coach in The Peake this season.
In case playing games at home isn’t possible to start the season, the Raptors have looked into several potential contingency locations – including Newark, Nashville and Tampa Bay, among others. However, they don’t have a locked and loaded Plan B. They believe it’s too early to give up on their very clear Plan A – hosting teams north of the border.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBA and NBPA have reached agreement on an amended CBA, sources tell @Tim Bontemps and me. Free agency begins at 6 PM on Nov. 20, with signings allowed at 12:01 PM on Nov. 22.
Tim Bontemps: The salary cap ($109.1 million) and luxury tax ($132.7 million) will remain the same next season. In future seasons, the cap and tax will increase by a minimum of 3 percent — and a maximum of 10 percent, sources said.
Tim Bontemps: Besides the salary cap & luxury tax remaining the same this season as they were in 2019-20, there will be a reduction in the luxury tax bill for teams at the end of the season based off the percentage BRI decreased from initial projections during the 2020-21 season, sources said.
Tim Bontemps: The two sides have agreed to keep the typical 10 percent escrow from player salaries, with any further reductions being spread out across that season and the following two seasons. No single season will ever have a greater reduction than 20 percent, sources said.
League officials are confident that the reduced number of games and adjustments to reduce travel will aid teams. Such adjustments, although not finalized, would include more instances of teams playing the same opponent twice in the same city, as well as instances when teams would play more games against teams in nearby markets. (For example, more teams visiting Los Angeles would play the Lakers and Clippers on the same trip.) One other instance that could reduce travel is limiting one-game road trips.
League officials also noted that a shorter offseason is typical during years in which there is an Olympics or other international offseason, which is to say they believe the timeline players are facing now isn't unusual.
Multiple officials also said they expected the two teams that just played in the Finals to potentially rest their stars and others early on while treating the first month of games as a sort of extended training camp and preseason. The Lakers and Miami Heat would be the only teams to experience a season turnaround of just 71 days, whereas the traditional offseason since the 1983-84 season lasts 141 days for Finals franchises.
Tim Reynolds: Been asked twice privately today about whether media will be allowed in for NBA games when they restart in December, so I'll answer it openly it here: The answer is yes. Not sure why anyone thinks otherwise. As of now, we'll be in arenas. Somehow. Somewhere.
Health officials around the NBA have expressed concern for how to prepare players for a potential 72-game regular season with a training camp that starts on Dec. 1, less than a month away -- especially for the teams that haven't played games since March and the two conference champions. "It's going to be especially challenging to not only get ready to play Dec. 22 or whatever but to maintain that for a period of four or five months," said one head athletic trainer of a Western Conference team, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity. "This is going to be another period of unchartered territory. As unchartered as the [Orlando] bubble was [this summer], this is the bubble times three or four or five [because we're] trying to extend it to that period of time with a minimal ramp-up."
"I'd be more worried about travel, because we saw in the bubble, not having travel really helped guys recover," said one official intimately involved with player health. "So I don't know if it's actually the amount of games (72), but it's just the fact that you're getting to 2 a.m. in the morning and you're traveling now -- that becomes a bigger issue."
In terms of conditioning, several health officials said they were hopeful that teams would be able to return to game-shape in a three-week ramp-up, particularly if they followed the same blueprints as when they had a similar timeline before the Orlando bubble. But they also pointed out that they would have to build up a stronger base of conditioning and strength to last for the 72-game slate, especially and in order to stave off soft-tissue injuries that de-conditioned players tend to suffer, such as hamstring strains.
Jared Dudley: This is true for the teams that made it to the 2nd round and beyond.. Teams will have to be careful with the ramp up in training camp and the first 4/6 weeks of the season... NBA should look out for those teams schedule wise early in the yr.
The Toronto Raptors recently visited Nashville and are considering calling the city home next season because of Canadian travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a source familiar with the situation told The Tennessean. The source requested anonymity because there has been no public announcement.
A decision about where the Raptors will play could come within the next week or two, though the source said the preferred priority is keeping the team in Toronto. The Raptors began discussions with Bridgestone about three weeks ago. The arena is well equipped for basketball and hosts the SEC basketball tournament.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Among NBPA player reps on tonight’s call, there was some curiosity about starting free agency prior to Nov. 18 Draft, sources tell ESPN. For a few reasons, it isn’t possible under these circumstances. However, it is an idea that's had some support among teams in ordinary times.
Adrian Wojnarowski: First, there won't be finalized deal between NBA/NBPA until just prior to draft. Teams would be managing FA and draft simultaneously. Also, switching order starts new salary cap year earlier, offering some teams edge in draft-related trades that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
Tim Reynolds: To be clear, this vote tonight doesn't mean Opening Night is absolutely Dec. 22. But it does clearly suggest that the NBPA is on board, which obviously helps matters a great deal. Still have to work out those little things: Money, escrow, COVID protocols, etc.
The NBA will play a 72-game season, with training camps opening on Dec. 1, the regular season ending on May 16 and the Finals finishing no later than July 22, sources said. The NBA will play in markets, reduce their travel by 25 percent, and significantly reduce cross-country travel especially early in the season, sources said.
Several star players on Thursday night’s call, such as NBPA President Chris Paul and Rockets All-Star Russell Westbrook, stated that they want to view the official health and safety measures prior to fully committing to the season, sources said. Westbrook cited the importance of players’ health and safety upon any season opening, sources said.
The N.B.A.’s goal is to complete the 2020-21 season before the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled from July 23 to Aug. 8 in 2021. That would allow the league to avoid direct competition with the Olympics and set up the 2021-22 season to return to the N.B.A.’s usual October-through-June pattern. The plan is strongly preferred by the league’s primary media partners, Disney and Turner, following a summer and fall of dismal N.B.A. ratings in a crowded sports landscape, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Besides, some league officials would say, eight teams haven’t played since March and more than half the league was done playing by Sept. 1. “Good to see the light right now,” Hawks guard Trae Young, one of the players who hasn’t played since March, tweeted.
Shams Charania: Sources The NBA and NBPA are discussing a minimum of 2 percent annual growth in the salary cap and luxury tax for the duration of the collective bargaining agreement. Cap is expected to be $109M this offseason.
Frank Madden: For some context, if cap goes up only 2% for 21/22 then it would put a Giannis supermax value at around $226m/5 years (same if he signs this offseason or next). Other teams could offer a projected $144/4 years if he hit FA in ‘21. A year ago the projections were $254m/$161m.
Shams Charania: The National Basketball Players Association has voted to tentatively approve NBA’s proposal for the 2020-21 campaign starting on Dec. 22 and playing 72-game season, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. NBA set to tip off Christmas week.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The NBPA player rep vote has completed, approving a December 22 start/72-game regular season, source tells ESPN. Next up: NBA/NBPA finishes financial terms on amended CBA, which will take into next week. Expect trade moratorium to be lifted shortly prior to Nov. 18 Draft.
Tim Reynolds: There's no agreement on the money - yet - but the NBA's player representatives have decided to back the notion of a Dec. 22 start to the season, AP is told. Talks between the union and league will continue on matters like escrow/COVID testing/etc.
Marc Stein: NBA team player representatives remain on course to huddle virtually later tonight to vote on the league's proposal to start the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22 ... with training camps opening Dec. 1 Two sources briefed on the latest describe union approval of that plan a "formality"
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA aims to have arena suites open to fans at 25-to-50 percent capacity for 2020-21 season tipoff, based on local regulations. An amount of fans — under protocols such as masks, social distancing and coronavirus testing — is a goal to start season.
Shams Charania: The coronavirus pandemic has made life fluid, and a clinical vaccine will play a role in this too. NBA's goal is some amount of fans to start the season, depending on each market's restrictions. Courtside fans, for instance, would be about 10-to-12 feet away, sources said.
Omari Sanfoka II: Asked Weaver about the season potentially starting in December: "We can play tomorrow, we can play Christmas, whenever … we're chomping at the bit to get back going. Whenever they tell us we can get back out there, we'll be ready to go."
The initially proposed January start died because neither the players nor the board of governors were comfortable sacrificing the additional four weeks of revenue. The Warriors are good with this. Really good. They’ve already had eight months to read or work out, to binge on their favorite TV shows or connect with family and friends, so they’ve always liked the December start.
“I've taken advantage of the time, really, but I'm also ready to go,” coach Steve Kerr said over the weekend. “I can't wait to start practice. We all kind of feel that way. When I say, ‘we all,’ I mean ‘organizationally.’ I'm sure the Lakers and the Heat aren't really ready to start camp yet. But we are ... we’re ready to roll.”
Keith Smith: One item that hasn't been talked about much: What happens with the NBA G-League in 2020-21? Multiple teams have that same question. One team told me they were told "We'll get the NBA season figured out and then we'll get into the G-League. It's on a long list of to-do items."
Bobby Marks: Here is what an 18% escrow would look like for some of the top earners: Steph Curry ➡️$43M to $35.3M 🔽$7.4M LeBron James ➡️$39.2M to $32.2M 🔽$7.0M Kawhi Leonard ➡️$34.4M to $28.2M 🔽$6.2M Total player escrow projects from $720M to $800M
The National Basketball Players Association is planning to take a formal vote of the team player representatives late Thursday, and sources told ESPN everything is progressing toward an agreement on a pre-Christmas start to the season. The NBPA is holding team conference calls this week, including several on Wednesday, that detail discussions with the league on a salary escrow for players in the range of 18% for the next two years, sources told ESPN.
Sources say the team representatives are expected to approve the agreement The league and players are still negotiating that escrow figure, sources said.
The NBA has pushed back a deadline to Friday that keeps open the option of terminating the collective bargaining agreement, which would essentially blow up the league's financial structure that allows for a 50/50 split of basketball-related income under the provisions of the CBA. Because of the pandemic triggering a force majeure clause in the CBA, both sides have the option of serving notice of 45 days on terminating the agreement, sources said.
Tim Reynolds: Very small sample size, but three NBA players reached by AP this afternoon said they believe opening night for the 2020-21 season will be Dec. 22 -- as has been suggested now for the last several days. None of the three expressed a problem with that.
Bobby Marks: Escrow withholding does not impact a cap charge and the amount sent out in a trade (or how it impacts the luxury tax, cap space or hard cap). A $20M player is still $20M.
SiriusXM NBA Radio: "We'll most likely be on [December] 22nd" Lakers Free Agent Forward @JaredDudley619 tells @TheFrankIsola that he expects the season to begin before Christmas. https://t.co/szn3lcYSqO
The National Basketball Players Association is planning to hold a vote on Thursday night or Friday morning regarding the Dec. 22 start format to the 2020-21 season amid the coronavirus pandemic, sources told The Athletic.
The NBPA, led by executive director Michele Roberts, started formal conference calls with players from all 30 teams this week. Players have been holding calls with the NBPA beginning Monday and will go through Thursday morning. Players coming out of several meetings believe a Dec. 22 start is inevitable, sources said.
Shams Charania: NBA/NBPA are deciding between two ‘20-21 scenarios: - Dec. 22: 72 games, regular season ends mid-May, Finals finish around July 22, Christmas revenue - Jan. 18: 60 games, regular season ends in June, Finals end around Aug. 21
The NBA is opening lucrative new revenue streams to help teams offset steep losses from last season and limit financial hits should games next season be played in front of a limited number of fans or in empty arenas. Teams now will be able to sell the previously off-limit baseline apron areas near the baskets as new high-profile sponsorship inventory. The baseline apron hard signage will be allowed only on local regional sports network broadcasts; no decision has been made on extending the signage to national broadcasts.
In addition, the league will allow teams to sell three global sponsorships as part of its International Team Marketing Program that previously was limited to two global deals. The international marketing program is entering the second year of a three-year pilot program.
Other new revenue ideas also are under consideration. The NBA recently allowed teams to sell large belly patches on practice jerseys and the league is discussing ways to allow more patch advertising on apparel, including putting ads on shooting shirts as well as allowing a second jersey patch on game jerseys.
Bill Self knows having an NBA team in Kansas City might not be the best thing for nearby college programs — at least from a ticket-sales perspective. And yet, the KU basketball coach seems fully on board with the idea of the Toronto Raptors potentially putting down temporary roots in Kansas City, if indeed they needed to relocate.
Last week, Self, entering his 18th year as KU's coach, was asked what he thought of that initiative. "I would say this place is obviously a hotbed for basketball," Self responded. "This place obviously loves their ball. And you go back historically to all the NCAA tournaments and the NCAA being here that was held in Municipal Auditorium and those sorts of things. I think that would be a big sell because we’ve shown that we love ball historically."
And Self also believes a successful run as a temporary home could put Kansas City on the shortlist to get an NBA team. "I saw firsthand, and we all did, what happened with the Hornets," Self said. "When Katrina hit New Orleans and they relocated to Oklahoma City, you saw how that market rallied around that team to make them basically an automatic to get a franchise if anything else was going to transpire. And then of course the Sonics moved there. I can see [KC] doing the same thing. I think people would rally around it."
On a conference call with the league's general managers on Monday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the top team basketball executives that "time is running out" on the possibility of starting the 2020-21 season prior to Christmas Day and potentially salvaging hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, sources told ESPN.
Discussions with the National Basketball Players Association continued over the weekend and into Monday, but the union's reluctance to agree to a Dec. 22 start and a reduced 72-game regular season has left the league fearful it has only several days left before opening training camps around Dec. 1 for a pre-Christmas tip is no longer a realistic possibility, sources said.
Optimism still exists that an agreement can be reached on the pre-Christmas start, but it has been tempered in recent days, sources said. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and union leadership have been talking directly with players about starting the season so quickly after a mid-October finish to the Finals in the Orlando, Florida, bubble, and so far have expressed a preference for a mid-January start to the season. The NBA believes there is somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion in revenue losses next season and beyond by failing to start the season in December, sources said.
The NBA has pushed back to Friday a deadline that keeps open the option of terminating the collective bargaining agreement, which would essentially blow up the league's financial structure that allows for a 50-50 split of basketball related income (BRI) under the provisions of the CBA. Because of the coronavirus pandemic triggering a force majeure clause in the CBA, both sides have the option of serving notice of 45 days on terminating the agreement, sources said.
And without assurances that the pandemic will allow for fans in arenas this season -- and projections that their absence could cost the league more than $4 billion in lost revenue -- the NBA fears delaying the start of the 2020-21 season until January could cost the league an additional $500 million to $1 billion in revenue losses next season and beyond, sources said.
The NBA and NBPA are still at odds over a start date to the season, with the union resisting thus far a league plan to open a shortened 72-game regular season on Dec. 22 and complete the NBA Finals before the Summer Olympics in July, sources said. The union has countered with a mid-January start, but wants to continue discussing the issue with its players, sources said. There is a level of impatience growing within the NBA, which wants to get a deal executed and get plans for a new season moving quickly, sources said.
Significant gaps remain between the NBA and NBPA on how the league will account for reductions in players' salaries in light of the significant financial losses for 2019-20 and steeper projections of losses next year, sources said. The NBA and NBPA split the basketball related income (BRI), and the league recently told teams that 40% of that revenue could be lost without gate receipts this season, sources said. The NBA's revenue was down 10% to $8.3 billion for the 2019-20 season, according to data provided to teams from the league.
The NBA and NBPA have extended that opt-out window four times this year, including again Friday, as a good-faith gesture toward reaching structural changes to the CBA. For now, the union and league will continue talks through the weekend and into next week, sources said. For the season to start on Dec. 22, however, there's much work to be done.
The new goal of the league, sources said, is to put together a 72-game slate with reduced cross-country travel. In that scenario, the subsequent 2021-22 season can go off on its normal October-to-June trajectory — perhaps with New Yorkers packed together underneath the Garden’s famous ceiling again.
Lakers swingman Danny Green, of Long Island, said James may sit out the first month of the season if Dec. 22 is opening night. Let him — as long as King James suits up opening night for the ring ceremony and on Christmas, the bonanza day of its television partners. “Certainly, it creates some challenges,’’ Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told The Post. “But challenging times require adaptation. I have no doubt we will be fine.’’
Shams Charania: The NBA and NBPA are extending today’s deadline to Nov. 6 for either side to serve notice on terminating the collective bargaining agreement, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Scott Agness: Just in: NBA and NBPA to push back a potential decision to terminate the CBA to Nov. 6.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: For fourth time, NBA and NBPA agree to extend deadline to serve notice on terminating the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Extension goes to Nov. 6 now, which allows additional time for talks on CBA modifications. Discussions are ongoing this weekend.
Adrian Wojnarowski: There's still a gulf between NBA and NBPA on a start date for the 2020-2021 season, sources tell ESPN. NBA wants pre-Christmas; NBPA still preferring mid-January. Economic issues remain significant, including escrow withholding on player salaries w/ revenues down b/c of no fans.
Tim Reynolds: It's a one-week extension of the opt-out window for the NBA and NBPA, AP is told. The CBA could expire Dec. 14 (and likely chaos ensues) if either side decides to opt out once the new Nov. 6 deadline hits.
Michael McCann: In the unlikely event NBA or NBA serves notice to terminate CBA, both sides would then be obligated to engage in good faith negotiations for 60 days. No strike or lockout during that time. If still no deal? Then it could get litigious fast, with antitrust law entering the room.
Jared Dudley: Can’t play 50 games .. Thats a hard no for the players! Has to be a min of 72.. the real question is what change in a week? The league kept saying January January.. Everybody knew how big Christmas was and Olympics being late July months ago.. TV just mentioned it now??
Shams Charania: The NBA has informed its 30 teams that they are now allowed to open practice facilities for group practices, workouts and scrimmages with up to 10 players, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium.
Adrian Wojnarowski: NBA players must be tested every day for the coronavirus and return a negative test each time to be allowed to participate in offseason workouts at team facilities, according to a memo shared with teams today.
Tim Reynolds: One thing to note from the offseason workouts memo shared with teams today detailing how they can open facilities: In a big departure from the past norms, teams cannot make their facility available to players who were not under contract with the team when last season ended.
Marc Stein: NBA players may only be offered a 50-game season, I'm told, if the union insists on a mid-January start rather than the Dec. 22 proposal, because the league's television partners do not want the 2020-21 season to stray past mid-July ... or clash with the Tokyo Olympics
Marc Stein: A 50-game season would reduce player salaries significantly in 2020-21, since NBA pay adheres to a regular-season schedule The NBA's 72-game model calls for teams to play roughly 14 games a month through May, followed by the playoffs through mid-July -- before the Olympics begin
Tim Reynolds: Can confirm that the league’s television partners are adamant — they want to start Dec. 22, though what I’m hearing on a season potential end date is slightly different than what Marc has here (but he’s in the Hall of Fame and I’m barely allowed to buy a ticket to go there).
January 26, 2022 | 9:34 pm EST Update
Two weeks before the deadline, the Rockets are sellers, unquestionably so if the only choices are to be buyers or sellers. But since everything has changed from their previous ventures into the deadline deal-making period, the Rockets’ roles and goals this season are not so easily defined. They are sellers who are far less motivated to deal than in previous seasons.
They are unlikely to seek a small step forward, a solid role player type who does not bring star potential to drive the rebuild. But they do not need to make everything about acquiring picks, especially in next June’s draft, in which they already have two selections. They have two second-year players, Jae’Sean Tate and K.J. Martin, in the rotation and chose four then-teenagers in last year’s draft, collecting more young players than they have had minutes to play.
Eric Gordon would seem to be the Rockets’ most valuable trade asset, other than the first-round picks that would take a legitimate star talent to pry loose. At 33, Gordon would seem to be on a different timetable from a core crowded with teenagers. Though talks so far have been at most exploratory, offers could come later. The Rockets would have to determine not just how they feel about the deals that might be available but how they compare offers to what they believe they could get before the draft or in the offseason.