With the Knicks set to begin their offseason workout sessions Wednesday the possibility that they might not be playing a game until 2021 has become very real.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, speaking on a CNN panel Tuesday afternoon, said that the hopes he originally expressed of starting the season Dec. 1 and then moved to Christmas Day may be unrealistic.
When moderator Bob Costas asked him for a start date and if it could be a shorter season, Silver said that it likely won’t start until 2021, but he remained hopeful that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association could come up with a way to navigate a full 82-game season with fans in the home arenas.
"My best guess is that even though as you said it’ll be the '20-21 season that that season won’t start until ’21," Silver said. "We said a week ago or so that the earliest we would start is Christmas of this year. But the more I’m learning even listening to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci this morning, I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January.
"The goal for us next season is to play a standard season — 82-game season and playoffs. And further, the goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans, but there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example. Would that be a means of getting fans into our buildings? Will there be other protections?"
The resumption of the current season took place entirely in a bubblelike environment in Orlando — or as Silver calls it, a campus — with no fans, and until the playoffs moved forward, no families even allowed. The lack of a home court has created some odd results, but mostly it has denied the league a huge source of revenue.
Silver said he is hopeful that by pushing the season back the testing protocols learned on the campus, the lessons learned from other sports' efforts and the continued advancements taking place the NBA can return to its home cities.
"Some of the things we’re learning down in Orlando . . . and also clearly learning a lot from other sports, what baseball is currently doing, what football is doing sort of as college sports is now — has begun playing," he said. "So, there’s a lot of new information out there in the marketplace that we’re looking to absorb. But the goal is to play a standard season, and incidentally, when we went into our planning of this current season we played a bit of an unusual finish to the regular season. But it was very important to the players and to the league and the teams that we play our standard playoffs, which is what we’re in the process of doing now."