While the NBA tries to think of a way to save the 2019-2020 season in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, others, possibly the league itself, have taken the opportunity to think of the NBA’s future as whole.
The idea of shortening the league’s schedule has been thrown around a lot in recent years, and while that’s still a real possibility, the biggest conversation being had now is the idea of permanently starting the NBA season later in the calendar year.
A supporter of that decision is the Houston Rockets’ Eric Gordon. In a recent interview on The Matt Thomas Show, Gordon laid out a brief plan of what he would like the NBA schedule to change to:
I think I really do want to have the season start in December, like on Christmas, late December, and end in early August or maybe late July. The only thing that sucks is it would go into the summer, but at the end of the day, you still get the same result. You still get a lot of free time. I think we should start in December. That would do everyone well.
While it would seem insane to NOW decide to push back the schedule of a multi-billion-dollar organization by two months, the idea could possibly have legs. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, “optimism abounds” among owners that this season could be salvaged. The timeline could be something along the lines of giving players the month of June to get in shape, resuming the season in July, and playing the finals in October.
Writer’s note: While salvaging this season to its fullest is a great idea, I, for one, think this timeline is ridiculous. That’s three months to play a remaining 7-9 games, depending on your team’s schedule, plus the playoffs. Those regular season games can be finished in a month (less than, really), the first two rounds of the playoffs can be shortened, and then there should be no cross-country traveling since the games will likely be played with no fans and eliminate the need for home stadiums, thus shortening times between games. The season could easily be done by late August/mid-September.
Which brings us back to the original point: if this season is salvaged, then the 2021 season will obviously open at a later time. Even with my schedule idea, a December start still isn’t exactly possible, the 2021 season will still start in the winter. And instead of condensing next year greatly to get the regular schedule back on track, which then botches two seasons in the name of its original schedule, the NBA continues on with its year beginning in the winter, preferably December.
Who says no to this either? For the NBA, they will no longer have to compete with the playoff hunt (and the actual playoffs), in the NFL, college football, or share a schedule with the NHL. For the viewers, there is a much smaller gap in between the end of the NBA season and the beginning of the NFL season, including the shortening of the dreaded “dead period” of sports when there’s only baseball.
This seems like a win-win for everyone involved, and I would go out on a limb and say Gordon isn’t the only NBA player who supports this move.