Goodwill reports the league is "focusing" on the holiday, January 18, for opening night, though a potential Christmas Day start isn't out of the question yet.
A decision on a full 82-game season hasn't been made, and Goodwill said the league's focus is on returning to a normal league calendar with the 2021-22 season beginning on time next October.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to focus on getting next season started during a Board of Governors call Friday. A Jan. 18 start would give teams at least two months of notice if it's approved in a timely manner.
"Among the issues the league is facing from this unconventional calendar means getting the NBA back on track for normalcy for the 2021-22 season, as in October to June. Before the pandemic shut the NBA down in March, many were openly campaigning to start the season on Christmas Day permanently, largely to avoid conflict with the NFL’s season.
"The lower ratings for the just-concluded Finals likely put a little bit of realism in the minds of the decision-makers about the viewing habits of the public as well as the appetite for the players to drag their season well into the summer and to the tip of fall."
The idea of a Christmas start was discussed during Silver's press conference at the Finals, yet the commissioner noted that was the earliest possible date and a January season opener was more likely.
"If we start in January, it means training camps have begun roughly three weeks earlier," Silver said. "Part of the consideration is that for these players, as I said at the open, in the longest season in the history of the NBA, many of them have continued training throughout the break, Finals will end in roughly mid-October, and they need a break physically and mentally. There's no question about that."
Either way, Silver was noncommittal about allowing fans to return to arenas, noting there's plenty that could change between now and when the season officially opens.