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Stein: NBA Season May Be Shortened if Start is Delayed

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Is a 50-game season a realistic option or a threat?

NBA: Playoffs-Portland Trailblazers at Los Angeles Lakers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If the start of the 2020-21 NBA season is delayed until January, the league may shorten the campaign drastically. Marc Stein of the NY Times has tweeted that the NBA may take a strong bargaining position, offering only 50 games for the year if forced to accept a mid-January start. The league reportedly favors starting on December 22nd, the players on January 18th.

The strength of the NBA’s position lies in financial compensation. The league-wide salary cap is governed by total revenue, individual contract payouts by regular-season games. Both would plummet in a 50-game system, potentially costing players millions. The NBPA and its members would be forced to decide whether starting three weeks later than the league desires would be worth a salary cut of 13 or more this season, with potential fallout next year as well.

Today is the deadline, now thrice-extended, for either side to indicate that they will opt out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. We should hear news of a final decision or a fourth extension by the end of the day.