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.
NBA players may only be offered a 50-game season, I'm told, if the union insists on a mid-January start rather than the Dec. 22 proposal, because the league's television partners do not want the 2020-21 season to stray past mid-July ... or clash with the Tokyo Olympics— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 30, 2020
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 1⁄3 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.