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Adam Silver’s ‘best guess’ is the next NBA season will start in January at the earliest

The league wants to play as many games as possible with fans in the stands.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke Tuesday to CNN’s Bob Costas about the coming NBA season.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke Tuesday to CNN’s Bob Costas about the coming NBA season.Read moreTakashi Aoyama / MCT

NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t expect next season to begin until 2021.

Silver told CNN on Tuesday that his “best guess” is the coming NBA season will start in January at the earliest.

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association will decide on a new start date for the season. The NBA season usually begins in October, but it had been rescheduled for Dec. 1 due to the shutdown in March before being pushed back again because of the coronavirus pandemic. A Christmas start date had been the ideal scenario, but that became unlikely.

The league wants to play a standard season, which would include an 82-game regular season and full postseason. The goal is to play games in the teams’ arenas in front of fans.

“But there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example,” Silver said. “Would that be a means of getting fans into our buildings? Will there be other protections?”

Around 40% of the league’s once-projected $8 billion in revenue comes from having fans in attendance.

Silver’s January comment comes after the NBA and NBPA decided to hold the draft on Nov. 18. It was originally scheduled for June 25 in New York but was pushed back to Oct. 16 due to the pandemic. The NBA and NBPA agreed to push that date back in order to negotiate changes to the collective bargaining agreement. It also gives the two sides time to agree on next season’s salary cap and luxury tax thresholds. As a result, free agency could begin in November or early December.

So far, the Sixers could have $147 million tied up in 11 players next season, with the bulk of the money going to Tobias Harris ($34.3 million), Joel Embiid ($29.5 million), Ben Simmons ($28.75 million), and Al Horford ($27.5 million).

The problem is that the league’s salary cap could remain at its current $109.1 million or drop because of lost revenue due to the pandemic. The same can be said of this season’s luxury-tax threshold of $132.6 million.