Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said the NBA has told GMs that the 2020-21 season schedule could be condensed to stay close to its typical format.
"I think the league wants to stay as close to its original schedule as possible," Schlenk said on a conference call with reporters, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps. "There's a lot of different reasons for that–the college season, the draft and how all of that plays out. so that's why they've laid out a timeline where it would be a very quick turnaround from the NBA Finals to the start of the season.
"If you're going from the middle of October to starting the season [on] the 1st of December, if you are one of the teams in the Finals, that's quick. But they want to try to stay as close to the historical timing as possible. ...As you know, there's been a big drive to avoid back to backs and certainly 4 in 5 nights, but we might find ourselves in a situation next year where it would be much more condensed."
USA Today's Mark Medina reports that the league still wants an 82-game schedule next season, even if it is condensed.
The NBA is reportedly targeting Dec. 1 as opening night for next season, though that plan was a "surprise," according to NBPA president Michele Roberts. That start date is less than two months after the potential end to the NBA Finals on Oct. 12.
Although that creates a short offseason, it allows the NBA to possibly wrap up next season before the Olympics are set to take place. The Tokyo Olympics were postponed to next summer amid the coronavirus pandemic, but any potential late NBA playoff games could interfere with the timeline for the Games. The league wouldn't want to compete against the Olympics for television viewers, and many NBA players also represent their countries in the Summer Games.
Bontemps points out that if the NBA follows the same 177-day timeframe for the regular season that it did this year, the final day of the regular season would be Wednesday, May 26. If the playoffs started on May 29 and last 65 days like this year's playoffs were scheduled to, they could potentially end on Sunday, Aug. 1. The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to open July 23.