NBA informs teams Dec. 1 remains target date to start next season

Sam Amico

The NBA has told teams that Dec. 1 remains the target date to tip off the 2020-21 season, but with some contingencies, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Per the report, the league would only move the date if it felt fans could safely return to arenas at a later time. In that scenario, next season could start as late as Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18, Wojnarowski wrote.

Twenty-two teams are currently resuming the season on the Disney campus near Orlando. All 346 players inside the NBA bubble have tested negative for the novel coronavirus for three straight weeks.

Teams have begun to model options "that include a few thousand fans to buildings filled closer to capacity" for next season, Wojnarowski reported.

In the event the league doesn't feel that fans can safely return to arenas, Wojnarowski added, it may consider having them play games at their practice facilities or at neutral sites in 2020-21.

"NBA teams could move operations to other league cities -- or more likely, non-NBA markets -- that could allow for paying customers," Wojnarowski wrote.

The draft lottery is scheduled to take place Aug. 20, with the draft scheduled for Oct. 16. The free agency signing period is slated to begin two days after the draft.