On Monday, in a conference call with the general managers of the league, Adam Silver told the basketball team that it was time to start the 2020-21 season before Christmas and potentially save hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, according to ESPN sources.
Discussions with the National Basketball Association continued over the weekend and Monday, but the Association’s reluctance to make a statement at the start of the 22nd FIFA World Cup was not enough. December and the shortening of the regular season with 72 players, the league feared that only a few days remained before the opening of the training camp around December 1. Some sources suggest that December is a good time for advice before Christmas.
The optimism remains about the possibility of reaching an agreement on a departure before Christmas, but according to some sources this has diminished in recent days. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and the union executive spoke to the players so soon after they finished the final in mid-October at the Bubble in Orlando, Florida and preferred to start the season in mid-January. The NBA estimates that the loss of revenue will be between $500 million and $1 billion next season and beyond if the season does not start in December, depending on the sources.
The NBA has extended the deadline until Friday, leaving open the possibility to terminate the collective agreement, which effectively breaks the financial structure of the league to divide the income from basketball (BIS) in equal parts according to the rules of the CBA. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which causes force majeure in the CBA, both parties have the possibility to terminate the agreement with 45 days’ notice, according to the sources.
The NBA is looking for ways to increase the flow of money to the teams, and according to some sources, the league hopes to expand its guidelines for sports betting, alcohol and casinos, which could generate $80 to $100 million in revenue.
The NBA and NBPA negotiations also include the possibility of holding the tournament during the Eastern and Western Conference playoffs, a mechanism to encourage more teams to compete aggressively at the end of the season, and an opportunity for the league, players and television partners to create more profitable revenue streams, according to some sources.
The proposal for a playoff tournament developed around the ESPN structure that was first announced in early 2018: a four-person tournament with starting numbers 7, 8, 9 and 10 for two finals at each conference.
The tournament starts in the 7th round. Host number 8, and the winner takes the 7th place. Meanwhile, number 9 meets number 10, and the winner plays 7-8 against the loser in the match for number 8, ESPN sources reported.
This framework gives teams that finish regular season 7 and 8 two chances to qualify for the post-season. Teams 9 and 10 would have to win twice – without losing – to get one of these two places.
The NBA made its debut at the season opener in Orlando. It included a tournament trigger; to participate in the tournament, number 9 had to be four games away from number 8. The Washington wizards, who entered Orlando, started in the Eastern Conference at position 9, went down 7-1 and couldn’t provoke the game.
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The success of this format has led to speculation that the NBA will add a platform to its offer to play in the regular season. The Dallas Mavericks, who took 7th place in the West in 2019-20, finished the games at 7½ for no. 8, the top insiders of the league, and wondered if it would be fair to include 7th place with such a cushion in the proposed 7-10 betting match.
To date, the 7-10 league proposal has not yet been finalized to a tournament table tractor, sources told ESPN. The tournament is designed as a media feature that makes money. A reduction in the number of teams from four to three would, according to some sources, reduce the number of matches and thus the total tournament income.
It is possible that some teams will advocate certain changes to the tournament schedule when the 2020-21 framework elections begin. There are still significant differences between the NBA and NBPA on how the league will explain the decline in player salaries, given the significant financial losses for 2019-20 and more serious predictions of losses next year, according to some sources.
The NBA and NBPA discussed a significant increase in deposits withheld from players’ salaries to explain the serious loss of league income during the pandemic. The parties discussed the distribution of the players’ defeats over several seasons – maybe even three years – so that the players don’t get such a big financial setback in one year, according to some sources. According to some sources, this implies a pay freeze and a tax on luxury goods in the next three years.
The NBA and NBPA share the BRI, and the league recently told the teams that 40% of this revenue could be lost without a goal this season, according to sources. According to the data provided to the teams and received by ESPN, the revenues of the BRI NBA for the 2019-20 season have decreased by $1.5 billion.
Most NBA cities are still unable to hold public meetings for more than 500 people. The NBA plans to start the season without fans in the arenas – with a little confidence, they can always come back at the beginning of the season as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the United States.
The start in mid-January in the Martin Luther King Jr. day zone would have postponed the competition until after the July Summer Olympics in the summer months, when the competition fears a drop in television ratings. The NBA anticipates significant financial turmoil if the competition with the Summer Olympics in July were to compete for the television results and then be forced to influence a return to the traditional NBA schedule for the 2021-22 season.
Bobby Marks, an ESPN front office insider, contributed to this report.