The National Basketball Players Association is expected to vote late Thursday or early Friday on whether to approve a Dec. 22 start date for next season, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania.
Some players reportedly believe the Dec. 22 date is now inevitable following several meetings with the union and its executive director Michele Roberts.
Some of the league's stars reportedly prefer starting the season on Jan. 18 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day - due to the relatively brief offseason following the end of The Finals on Oct. 11.
The major calendar differences between the December and January start dates are as follows, according to Charania, citing multiple sources:
|Dec. 22 start date||Jan. 18 start date|
|Training camps||Dec. 1||Dec. 28|
|Back-to-backs per team||14||24|
|End of regular season||Approximately May 16||Sometime in June|
|Start of playoffs||Approximately May 22||Approximately June 28|
|End of Finals||Approximately July 22||Approximately August 21-23|
Differences in regard to escrow - a percentage of player salaries temporarily withheld to offset potential shortfalls in league revenue - are also believed to be a sticking point in negotiations. The NBA is reportedly seeking a 25% escrow over three years while the union is countering with 15% over the same time frame.
The 2020-21 start date has been a wedge in discussions between the NBPA and the league in recent weeks as well. The NBA is reportedly targeting a 72-game regular season to begin in late December in order to recoup some of the financial losses incurred during the 2019-20 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The league is also believed to prefer tipping off in December in order to avoid competing with the Olympic Games next summer in Tokyo, which was postponed by a year for the first time due to the pandemic. The opening ceremony is scheduled for July 23, with the men's basketball tournament tipping off a day later. Both the Summer Olympics and the men's tournament will end Aug. 8.