Recently on Twitter, both Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania unleased a flurry of information about the NBA return date and the timeline for getting there. The problem is, the news seems to change each week, if not each day.
Money Moves the World
As recently as October 23, it has been reported that the NBA would like to begin the season by December 22. Doing so could potentially recoup millions in potential losses, especially if fans are allowed back in the arenas, even if only a limited number.
The season would also be a little shorter, resembling more of a lockout season than a regular 82 game season. Doing so would forgo previous ideas about a permanent move to the summer and get the NBA back to its normal routine. The move to summer would not have been terrible. But there are probably man players who feel the same way about summer as Scotty Pippen.
This language is certainly a shift from the talk from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver while the bubble was still happening. Throughout multiple interviews, he stated that he expected the NBA’s return would not happen until 2021. The most likely date would have been January 18, or MLK Day. This made some sense, given the NBA’s recent push for social justice reform and interactions with the Black Lives Matter movement.
As always, money is the deciding factor here. The half a billion in value that can be saved is exceptionally enticing to owners. There is no other reason why the NBA changed their mind from the reports coming out less than two weeks ago. This report by CBS is relatively inclusive and does an excellent job of tracking the league’s sentiment at the time. As usual, in this player-driven league, the players have their plans that can muck it up for everyone else.
Players That Don’t Want to Play
In a movement that I feel has not been adequately explained, there has grown a “substantial faction” among players that don’t want the season to restart in December. Danny Green even hinted that if the season did start in December, someone like LeBron James would sit out that first month.
It makes some sense why LeBron would want the season to start later than sooner. He’s getting old and needs that time to let his body heal. An argument can be made that the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Title because LeBron was so well rested after the season was put on pause.
But the vast majority of the NBA has not played in a long time. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have missed significant time. Young stars like Trae Young and Zion Williamson should be hungry to play now to prove themselves. Hell, Jimmy Butler was in the gym almost immediately after the Miami Heat lost in the Finals. Hoopers want to hoop. I say, let them.
What will most likely get the players on board is, as per usual, money. With all the turmoil happening in the United States before the restart, there were legitimate talks of not finishing the season. The idea was not to create a distraction from what was happening so that change could be made. But the potential impact on the future salary cap was too significant. Playing wouldn’t recoup all the NBA losses and save the salary cap, but every penny earned during the bubble helped slow its decline.
What Happens Now?
I think the NBA will, and should, start in December. Besides being a fan and wanting more basketball, money will make the NBA restart. If LeBron decides to sit the first month, he only hurts himself and his legacy. LeBron is a little on the insecure side and acts like a baby sometimes. If the NBA return date is December 22, he and nearly every other player will be on the court playing ball.