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The NBPA is reportedly going to vote on its start date this week

The feeling among players is that a Dec. 22 is “inevitable”, per reporting from The Athletic.

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Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images

With time running out for the NBA to get the next season started by Christmas (or a few days earlier), the Players Association is reportedly holding a vote on Thursday or Friday this week to decide on a preferred start date.

The two options are Dec. 22 or Jan. 18 (MLK Day), per reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic. Player representatives from each team (Terance Mann is the rep for the Clippers) have been on calls with Michele Roberts and the rest of the NBPA leadership to discuss the pros and cons of each start date and the financial ramifications.

Here is what the schedule would look like for the December and January start dates:

Dec. 22 start:

– Dec. 1 training camps begin for three weeks
– Three-to-four preseason games
– 72-game regular season
– 14 back-to-back games per team
– 25 percent reduction in travel
– All-Star Break for six days in early March
– Regular season ends around May 16
– Play-in tournament for the Nos. 7-10 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conference
– Playoffs begin around May 22
– Finals finish around July 22

Jan. 18 start:

– Camp opens on Dec. 28, for three weeks
– Three-to-four preseason games
– 60-game regular season
– 24 back-to-back games per team
– 25 percent reduction in travel
– All-Star Break for six days beginning around April 9
– Regular season ends in June
– Play-in tournament for the Nos. 7-10 seeds in the Eastern and Western Conference
– Playoff start around June 28
– Finals end around August 21-23

The league also continues to insist that starting by Christmas is a must; otherwise, the NBA’s TV partners at both the local and national levels will want to renegotiate their deals. The amount of revenue at stake for starting a month earlier remains unclear.

Otherwise, the differences between the two proposals come down to the number of games, the number of back-to-backs, and when the season ends. The Jan. 18 plan would conflict with the Olympics, even for players on teams that don’t advance deep into the postseason. That’s assuming that everything stays on schedule and there aren’t postponements due to the coronavirus, which feels ambitious. It would also be a ratings nightmare for the league to attempt to compete with the Olympics on television.

One element in common in both plans is an All-Star Break, which is surprising. It can’t be a good idea for players to congregate together in the middle of the year without time to quarantine. The idea of a break is probably smart; the players have grown accustomed to the gap in the schedule and will need it more than ever during this season. It might be more advisable to simply give the players some time off and, if necessary, use that time to play rescheduled games.

The Clippers haven’t played since Sept. 15, which would give them an offseason of just over three months if the season started in December. For teams that lost in the first round of the playoffs, their offseasons will be closer to 16 weeks. Non-playoff teams will have had over four months, and the non-bubble teams haven’t played since March, making their offseason longer than most seasons.

The most probable outcome seems to be a vote in favor of Dec. 22, but it would be foolish to count on any certainties after the year the league has had. At this point, anything other than a lockout would be a happy end result.