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Clippings: The players are fighting back for a longer offseason

Don’t plan on Christmas NBA basketball just yet.

BASKET-NBA-LAKERS-CLIPPERS Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The NBA has been building positive momentum towards a December tip-off for the 2020-21 season; the main arrow in the league’s quiver is the extra $500 million in revenue generated by starting one month earlier.

There were rumors that pockets of players were dissatisfied with the shorter offseason, primarily from the teams that played the longest in the postseason. Now, the players are coming together to push for January start date, specifically on Martin Luther King Day, another important holiday on the NBA calendar.

Michele Roberts, the executive director of the NBPA, had even stronger language regarding the proposed timeline. She told The Athletic that the current structure “defies common sense”. She also said, “The overwhelming response from the players that I have received to this proposal has been negative.”

The NBA can’t proceed if its stars are not on board with the plan, especially since there are so many details yet to resolve before beginning a new season.

There won’t be another bubble for the regular season, but the league is considering playing in pods and perhaps playing baseball-style series to reduce travel, per reporting from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. The target number is 72 games for the regular season, though that is subject to change, and the All-Star Game is most likely off the table. ESPN noted that the NBA might still a week off and use that time to make up games that were postponed due to positive coronavirus tests.

Then there are the financial issues. The league was about 10% short of its projected revenue this season, based on the data shared with the teams and procured by ESPN. The NBA does not want to lower the salary cap this year because that would put several teams in the luxury tax; it would also lead to an artificial spike in the cap next year that could disproportionately benefit a few teams, much like the cap jump of 2016 that allowed the Warriors to sign Kevin Durant.

This offensive by the players to delay the start of the season is just part of the negotiation. It remains possible that games will begin on Dec. 22, but the players secure a larger chunk of the revenue for this year or have to put less in escrow as a concession for the shorter offseason. Much remains in flux, despite the league’s desire to move quickly. The most important thing is to ensure the health and safety of the players; fortunately, the NBA has a good track record there.

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