The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association reportedly reached a tentative agreement to host the 2021 All-Star Game on March 7 in Atlanta.
Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported the sides are working to finalize details Thursday. Marc Stein of the New York Times reported the venue was likely to be the Hawks' State Farm Arena and that both sides were moving toward having a Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk Contest take place, as well.
In November, the NBA canceled the All-Star Weekend scheduled to take place February in Indianapolis and postponed the city's hosting duties until 2024. Cleveland (2022) and Salt Lake City (2023) were previously selected to welcome the NBA's best players during the next two seasons.
"Public health conditions prevented the Pacers, the NBA All-Star Host Committee and the NBA from appropriately planning and executing fan-focused All-Star activities in Indianapolis that were envisioned for this February," the NBA said in a statement at the time.
The league subsequently released the first half of its schedule in early December. The plans called for games to run through early March followed by the announcement of the second half of the campaign, leaving flexibility to add games postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Adding the All-Star Game in the slot between the two halves makes a lot of sense to help generate additional revenue as teams continue to deal with no attendance or significantly reduced crowd sizes because of COVID-19 guidelines.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported players selected for the game would be subject to standard testing protocols. They'd also fly privately to and from Atlanta to limit the risk of exposure, but the idea faced "resistance and skepticism among both players and team executives" during talks.
All-Star voting opened Jan. 28 and is slated to run through Feb. 16.
After the game, there would be three days remaining in the midseason break scheduled for March 5-10 before the second half is scheduled to begin.
The NBA is planning to play a 72-game season followed by playoffs that would run through mid-July, which could put the league on pace to return to its normal October-to-June timeframe for 2021-22.