We don’t know what the next NBA season will look like, but we do know that it will start much later than usual.
Asked for his “best guess” in an interview on CNN with Bob Costas, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said that next season likely won’t start until 2021.
“I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January,” said Silver. “The goal for us next season is to play a standard season… 82-game season and playoffs. The goal would be to play games in home arenas, in front of fans, but there’s still a lot that we need to learn.”
Silver referenced “rapid testing” as a possibility to help bring fans back to games, though clearly continuing to play games in empty arenas is a strong possibility.
The NBA will try to learn from baseball and football, Silver said, given that Major League Baseball and the NFL are currently operating seasons in home stadiums without a bubble environment.
It remains to be seen how this might affect the Toronto Raptors, if the Canada-USA border remains closed. Canada’s 14-day quarantine law pushed the Raptors into holding training camp in Florida last June. The Toronto Blue Jays and all three of Canada’s MLS teams have also been forced into holding “home” games in the United States.
Should the NBA attempt to play an 82-game season beginning in January, it could have consequences for player participation in the Summer Olympics — scheduled to begin July 23, 2021 in Tokyo.
Players may still participate in the Games, with the possible exception of those still competing in the NBA playoffs.
That may be especially bad news for Canada’s Olympic dreams, as the Canadian men’s national team still needs to win a last-chance qualifying tournament scheduled in Victoria in June 2021 to book their ticket to Tokyo.