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Clippings: Taking a look ahead to 2020-21

Here’s what the league is pondering for next season.

Brooklyn Nets v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images

The NBA has earned a well-deserved pat on the back for its execution of the league’s restart, at least to this point. The coronavirus was kept out of the bubble when players arrived, players have been well-taken care of, the fans generally appreciate the new viewing experience, and the games have been of a high quality.

Having achieved some level of success with the 2020 bubble, the league is looking ahead to next year to figure out how to conduct an NBA season while the pandemic continues in the U.S.

Creating another bubble similar to what exists currently at Disney World seems unlikely. The season is far too long to isolate players on a campus site for its entirety, and the league would have to accommodate even more people with the remaining eight teams. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN detailed some of the ideas the league is considering in lieu of the present format, and a few things stand out.

Firstly, the NBA proposed a Dec. 1 start date in order to get back on its original calendar and complete next season in time for the Tokyo Olympics (assuming the Summer Games go ahead in 2021). However, league sources say that is less of a priority, and team governors don’t care enough about international basketball because they don’t profit off it, and it puts additional wear on their players’ bodies. The NBA might take an Olympic break, but that would probably reduce the number of players who would choose to compete.

Secondly, there remains the idea of pushing back games so that teams can eventually play in front of fans if and when a vaccine is widespread. The league is even considering neutral-site games that could accommodate an audience if not every NBA market is capable of hosting games with fans.

All of this remains in flux, so expect a myriad of details to be bandied about between now and the start of next season. Just because the NBA figured out a conclusion for this year doesn’t mean the 2020-21 season will proceed as smoothly.

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