The NBA's tentative start date of Dec. 1 for the 2020-21 season is already in doubt.
Speaking to ESPN's Rachel Nichols ahead of the draft lottery, commissioner Adam Silver said the projected date is "feeling a little bit early to me." The admission comes only hours after ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported players were preparing to push free agency back from mid-October.
"Because of the uncertainty about next season's projected league revenues, a delay to the Oct. 18 start of free agency would give the NBA and NBPA a chance to better formulate the parameters of the 2020-21 salary-cap and luxury-tax thresholds.
"The hope is that, the longer the league waits on every decision and projection, the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic can offer a better understanding of whether there is a possibility of playing games in 2020-21 with fans in arenas, which is vital to the league's financial health. Commissioner Adam Silver told the players in a conference call in May that game-night receipts account for 40 percent of NBA revenues."
Silver didn't offer an alternative date for the tipoff to the 2020-21 season, nor did he give a timeline for when such a decision could be made. In deciding when to end the NBA's hiatus from mid-March to late-July, Silver said he'd look at the latest data concerning COVID-19 and prioritize that over dates.
If there's an added emphasis on getting as many fans into arenas next season, that same logic could apply. One date to keep in mind as the NBA moves toward its next season is Dec. 25.
Christmas has long been the league's unofficial start date, with a full slate of games featuring the NBA's marquee teams available for a national audience. The day could work for the season tipoff, but those conversations seem premature at this point. For now, the only thing Silver was willing to say is that Dec. 1 no longer looks feasible to begin the next season.