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2020-21 NBA schedule may impact players’ ability to take part in Summer Olympics

Vincent Frank
The 2020-21 NBA season is slated to start Dec. 22.
July 30, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; A general view the court with Black Lives Matter written above the NBA logo is seen at center court prior to the game between the LA Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on July 30, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

It appears that the NBA is moving forward with a plan to postpone the start of the 2020-21 season even further after the current campaign was suspended for five-plus months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the playoffs winding down in Orlando, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has made it clear that a January start to the 2020-21 season makes the most sense.

2020-21 NBA schedule likely to start in January

“I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January,” Silver said in a discussion with Bob Costas on CNN this week (h/t the Association Press). “The goal for us next season is to play a standard season … an 82-game season and playoffs. And further, the goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans, but there’s still a lot that we need to learn.”

There’s obviously a financial impact to this. The initial plan to start the 2020-21 NBA season December would have likely forced the NBA to go with four bubble cities without fans in attendance. Pushing it back further enables the Association to potentially have teams host games in their home venues with fans in attendance. That’s obviously dependent on a COVID-19 vaccine and/or rapid testing.

If the season were pushed back to January, it would also impact another huge sporting event during the 2021 calendar year.

2020-21 NBA schedule could force star players out of the 2020 Summer Olympics

Slated for this summer, the Olympics in Japan were postponed until July of 2021 due to the pandemic. If the start of the 2020-21 NBA season were pushed back to January, it would obviously impact the ability of star players to take part in the international event.

“There are a lot of great U.S. players, and we may be up against a scenario where the top 15 NBA players aren’t competing in the Olympics, but other great American players are competing,” Silver said. “And, obviously, there are many NBA players who participate in the Olympics for other countries. That’s something we’re going to have to work through.”

This is not what the likes of star Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James want to hear. Pretty much every big-name NBA player has committed to taking part in the 2020 Summer Olympics starting next July. Obviously, next year’s NBA schedule would continue into the summer, forcing players to opt out of the Olympics.