Report: NBA could play MLB-style series to limit travel
The NBA is fully focused on ironing out a plan and schedule for next season now that the 2019-20 season has finally come to a close. While another season in a bubble does not seem like a possibility, there could be some significant changes with the way the schedule is structured.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe report that the NBA is having discussions about beginning the 2020-21 season as early as Christmas Day. The plan could be to play fewer than 72 games and possibly not wait until fans are permitted to attend. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA could also move to an MLB-style schedule where teams play mini-series against one another to limit travel.
Sources: NBA and Board Governors continued discussion on call today about playing something resembling more of a baseball series to limit travel outside of bubble. For example, a team might travel to New York and play its two road games against Knicks and one vs. Nets. https://t.co/ObuqSkNXCB
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 23, 2020
While the bubble in Walt Disney World was ultimately a success, there are numerous reasons the NBA would prefer to avoid doing it again. Money is the most obvious reason.
There was originally some talk that the NBA could wait until fans are cleared to attend games, but no one knows when that will be. As Wojnarowski notes, approximately two thirds of the league’s teams would not be permitted to have fans at the moment due to local regulations. If the NBA waits until those restrictions are lifted, revenue would suffer.
The NBA previously informed teams that the season will not start before Christmas Day. That may be a realistic target date.