The NBA is anxious to get things going as quickly as possible in order to continue recovering revenue lost due to the COVID-19 fiasco that forced last season to take an extended break. They were pushing for a December start, while players, on the other hand, initially wanted to have more time between seasons and were trying to convince the league to hold off until January. The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) have now reached an agreement to get things running again, and the news will most likely make basketball fans, as well as sports gambling fans, happy.
The 75th season of the NBA will see its first games on December 22. This is two months later than an NBA season would normally start but, since the previous season only wrapped up on October 12, there was no chance of seeing things get going on a normal schedule. The upcoming season will also see 72 games played, as opposed to the normal 82.
Part of the reason the players agreed to start sooner, instead of holding out for January, is because of the Olympics. The Summer Olympics were already delayed from this year to next, and getting pro basketball going in December will allow the season to end around the middle of July. This gives NBA players a chance to participate in the Olympics, and several have already indicated that they are planning on going.
Being able to appear in the Olympics is a big deal for some athletes, but the NBA had to make a couple of concessions in order to get basketball players to agree to the earlier launch. Most notably, team owners didn’t get their way as they tried to convince players to put 25% of their salaries in escrow, suggested as a way to mitigate any further COVID-19 outbreaks, and had to settle for the usual 10%. That money, if the situation arises, would be taken across next season and the following two seasons, but players won’t ever have to give up more than 20%, which would only be considered in a worst-case scenario.
Salary caps won’t be changing, per the new agreement. It remains at $109.1 million as a way for the NBA and the NBPA to play a “wait-and-see” game with the global pandemic. If COVID-19 continues to be a major threat, a larger salary cap could have, in turn, resulted in players being forced to take salary cuts before the following season if league revenue were to drop. However, players can still look forward to some potential gains, as the salary cap can increase by at least 3%, reaching as high as 10%, if the upcoming season proves particularly successful.
Sports gambling enthusiasts and sportsbooks will welcome the projected start date for the upcoming season. Before NFL and college football started their current seasons, NBA games attracted a lot of attention from gamblers and, with both NFL and NBA in full swing, the action will increase even more. Prior to the start of the current NFL season, the Bodog sportsbook saw as much as 34% of its bets on NBA games, and all sports gambling operators will have their plates full with the two major sports leagues running at the same time.