The NBA informed team representatives at Friday's board of governors meeting that it hopes to begin a 72-game regular season on Dec. 22, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania.
The governors also debated the possibility of starting the season before health restrictions preventing fans from attending games are lifted in all NBA markets, sources told ESPN's Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe.
Such decisions would stand in contrast to comments made by NBA commissioner Adam Silver in September. Silver said it was the league's goal to play a full 82-game campaign "in home arenas, in front of fans."
It was reported earlier this week that the weekend of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18) had emerged as a target start date for the 2020-21 season. But some at Friday's meeting once again reportedly broached the possibility of starting the campaign as early as Christmas Day.
The board also discussed the league's desire to incorporate the play-in system used in Orlando to determine each conference's eighth playoff seed next season, according to Charania.
Another topic of conversation pertained to teams playing multiple games in a specific market over the course of a single road trip in order to minimize travel, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports. For example, a team could play all of its scheduled road games against the Lakers and Clippers during a single trip to Los Angeles.
A Dec. 22 start date would potentially see the 2020-21 NBA season conclude in time to allow players to participate in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, according to Charania. Originally slated for this past summer, the games are now scheduled to open on July 23, 2021.
That timeline would also put the NBA on track to begin its 2021-22 season in October, which is a priority for the league, Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reported Wednesday.
Multiple teams believe a late December start is unrealistic, according to Windhorst and Lowe. But sources told The New York Times' Marc Stein that the idea has gained some momentum among the league's governors.
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association must agree to any adjustments to their current collective bargaining agreement - a result of the wide-ranging financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic - before a season schedule can be set. Most pressing is the determination of the 2020-21 salary cap, a prerequisite for offseason movement.
Talks between the NBA and NBPA have so far been characterized as productive, according to Windhorst and Lowe.
Each side has until Oct. 30 to give the other party 45 days' notice of its intention to opt out of the current CBA, though the NBA and NBPA have already agreed to push back that deadline multiple times so far.