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Volume 27 No. 7
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NBA Aims For 82 Games With Fans Attending When Possible For '20-21

Having fans in arenas is very likely not going to be possible if the season begins on Dec. 1
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Having fans in arenas is very likely not going to be possible if the season begins on Dec. 1
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
Having fans in arenas is very likely not going to be possible if the season begins on Dec. 1
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The NBA is telling teams the priority for '20-21 is "playing 82 games and playing as often as possible with fans in the seats," as the league "starts to frame the possibilities" for next season, according to Adrian Wojnarowki of ESPN.com. The NBA has told teams that the plan "remains to start on Dec. 1, but pushing back that date would require a level of confidence that a delay would ultimately result in the reopening of arenas to the public." If so, the NBA "would be willing to hold back the start -- perhaps even months." An opening night of Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- Jan. 18 -- "is a consideration." February and March are "realistic, too." Sources said that the NBA "will consider playing games in practice facilities that are more cost-effective and more easily repurposed for television." Wojnarowski wondered, "What if some markets could house fans, but others can't?" (ESPN.com, 8/8). Wojnarowski: “There’s a lot of discussion already centered upon returning to a bubble environment, not a single environment like we have here in Orlando, but multiple bubbles, essentially pods around the country." But there is an "understanding that having fans in arenas, which is the No. 1 goal, is very likely not going to be possible on December 1." The conversations are "still wide open" (“NBA Countdown,” ESPN, 8/8).

CONTINGENCY PLANS: SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL's John Lombardo notes the T'Wolves earlier this month "rolled out a new full and partial season-ticket sales program that required a deposit of $100, with no other charges to be collected until the end of October when more clarity of the upcoming NBA season may be known." The Bucks this month also "launched a season-ticket sales program requiring only a 10% down payment, with another 10% payment due when and if the league allows fans" in the building. Meanwhile, despite the unsettled market, Suns team execs said that "season-ticket revenue is up 16%, while their season-ticket renewal rate is up 23% year over year" (SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/10 issue).

BIG SHOES TO FILL: In N.Y, Stefan Bondy wrote "unfortunately" for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the answer to the question of who will carry the league after LeBron James retires "isn't clear cut." Most likely, that is because the player "isn't yet in the league." But as time "clicks away," fans "look at the possible successors." The "possible successors" among players under 30 are Pelicans F Zion Williamson, Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Clippers F Kawhi Leonard, Mavericks G Luka Doncic and a "mystery player" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/9).

DRESSING DOWN: In Boston, Gary Washburn noted a group of NBA head coaches "hope the league's policy of casual dress on the sidelines continues into next season." Coaches are "required to wear suits on the sidelines," but because of the Orlando heat, the arenas with no fans and just general comfort, the NBA "lightened their dress code, allowing coaches to wear polo shirts and trousers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/9).