Report: 'Substantial Faction' of NBA Players Pushing for Season to Start Jan. 18

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2020

Members of the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz kneel together around the Black Lives Matter logo on the court during the national anthem before the start of an NBA basketball game Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The NBA might be hopeful of a December start for next season, but players may have another target in mind.

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reported Wednesday a "substantial faction of players and star players" are looking to open the 2020-21 season on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18). Under this timeline, free agency would begin Dec. 1.

Of note, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer reported NBA team presidents and general managers met on Wednesday, where they discussed a plan for a 72-game season that would start in late December:

Kevin O'Connor @KevinOConnorNBA

Sources: The NBA held a call this afternoon with team GMs & presidents to detail the plan for a 72-game season set to begin December 22 & end before the Olympics in July. The league intends to schedule games in a way that reduces travel by 25% with teams playing MLB style series.

During a September interview with Bob Costas of CNN, Commissioner Adam Silver said January was his "best guess" for when next season will begin (21:00). Silver also said one goal is to have fans back in arenas:

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst reported last week the league had changed course and was "abandoning plans to delay the opening with hopes of incorporating fans back into arenas." According to The Athletic's Shams Charania, the NBA reached out to its board of governors to say Dec. 22 was the new tentative start date.

"The NBA league office informed the board of governors that the projected value for teams and players with a Dec. 22 start versus a later date is more than a $500 million difference, sources said," Charania wrote.

A mid-December tip-off would allow the NBA to stage games on Christmas Day, which is one of its biggest occasions during the regular season.

The short turnaround time for some teams is the largest concern with the plan. The Los Angeles Lakers didn't wrap up their NBA Finals victory over the Miami Heat until Oct. 11.

Lakers swingman Danny Green posited on The Ringer NBA Show that some of his teammates could take prolonged offseason breaks if the league finalized plans to begin in December:

#RingerNBA @ringernba

The NBA is looking to get things started up again on December 22, but @DGreen_14 and the other Lakers aren’t too keen on it 😅 Full #RealOnes with @loganmmurdock and Raja Bell: https://t.co/yYIdpuK49o https://t.co/NHwFIVG00D

The National Basketball Players Association will need to agree before anything is finalized.

It's one thing if the resistance to the NBA's proposal is limited to a handful of players. If that feeling is shared by a larger group, the topic might require a negotiation.