NBA Reportedly Informs Teams They May Begin Practices with Up to 10 Players

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 30, 2020

Black Lives Matter is displayed near the NBA logo in an empty basketball arena Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  The NBA playoffs will resume Saturday after the league and the National Basketball Players Association detailed the commitments that made players comfortable continuing the postseason. In a joint statement released Friday, the sides say they will immediately establish a social justice coalition, made up of players, coaches and owners, that would focus on issues such as voting access and advocating for meaningful police and criminal justice reform. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The NBA has informed its teams they can open their facilities and hold group practices, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

The one caveat is that the workouts and scrimmages cannot feature more than 10 players at a time.

With the 2020 NBA draft scheduled for Nov. 18 and free agency set to start soon after, teams' rosters are in flux, so the 10-player limit may not make a significant impact. Many teams have 10 or fewer players under contract for the 2020-21 season.

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, players will only be permitted to participate in offseason workouts at team facilities if their daily COVID-19 tests come back negative.

Although the 2019-20 season ended earlier this month when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, the league is looking to implement a quick turnaround with a Dec. 22 start date for the 2020-21 campaign.

According to ESPN's Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst, the league originally planned to start the season later to allow more time to receive clearance for fans to attend games, but since the COVID-19 pandemic is not allowing for that, the NBA pivoted.

A Dec. 22 start would allow for a 72-game regular season and also feature games on Christmas Day, which is a huge day for the NBA in terms of television ratings.

Another motivating factor is the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, as the NBA wants its season to end in July before the Olympics start.

The NBA players have yet to agree to the NBA's proposal and may push for a mid-January start instead. That would not only give players more time to rest on the heels of last season, but it would also provide rookies and free-agent signings with more time to get acclimated with their new teams.

Marc Stein of the New York Times reported Friday that the NBA may only offer its players a 50-game season if they hold firm on starting in mid-January, which would mean a significant salary reduction.

There is still much to be decided when it comes to the 2020-21 season and when it will begin, but allowing practices to start could be especially beneficial to the eight teams that did not resume the 2019-20 season in the NBA bubble since they have not played a game since March.