NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league is likely to delay its previously planned Dec. 1 start for the 2020-21 season in the hope of getting paying fans back into arenas.
Though the NBA’s bubble environment in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, has been a success, Silver said the league is not focusing on reinstating another quarantined campus for next season.
“I’d say Dec. 1, now that we’re working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me,” Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols before the NBA draft lottery on Thursday night.
“I think our No. 1 goal is to get fans back in our arenas. … So my sense is, in working with the players’ association, if we could push back even a little longer and increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”
Earlier Thursday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the players’ union had been preparing members for the opening of free agency to be delayed from its scheduled start on Oct. 18. The NBA draft remains scheduled for Oct. 16.
The NBA is working with research institutions and pharmaceutical companies on trials and monitoring developments in the fight against COVID-19. Silver has said roughly 40% of the league’s once-projected $8 billion in revenue is tied to having fans in arenas.
In addition to the hope of vaccines, the league and several of its owners have been working with companies on fast-response tests that could economically and safely make crowds more feasible in the months ahead.
“We’re watching closely the development of antivirals,” Silver said. “There’s been some really positive reports about vaccines lately.”