With the unquestioned success of the NBA bubble amid the coronavirus pandemic, questions are now being raised as to what next season could look like.
Should things continue as they are, and most likely the conditions will remain the same, the NBA is developing plans for regional bubbles to take place for the start of the 2020-21 season.
The start for the following season is looking like Dec. 1 as of right now.
The league would love to have its teams playing in their areans with the fans in attendance, but the idea of regional bubbles in a similar format to the Orlando style is not farfetched.
The competition would go on for a month, then teams would leave for a few weeks before moving on to the next regional bubble.
This option was acknowledged on the record by NBPA executive director Michele Roberts to ESPN late last month.
With this, the league would buy time until arenas are deemed safe for fans again.
The following excerpt is from ESPN regarding regional bubbles:
“Ideas center on regional sites and windows of participation that would extend a month for teams, sources said. After that, teams would go home and train — perhaps for two weeks — and move on to the next regional bubble against a new pod of teams. Orlando is a consideration, and Las Vegas — a finalist for this summer’s restart — would reemerge as a possible site too, sources said.”
Other options being thrown out there should fans not be allowed, include playing games in team practice facilities or even neutral game sites, per ESPN.
While the December 1 option is being explored, it is not final.
With that date, the season could still consist of 82 games and a full slate of playoff games while still leaving time for players to prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, starting in July 2021.
In an ideal world, that would work.
However, the league is working on alternative plans.
Per ESPN, the season could be moved to early 2021 if “a combination of vaccines, therapeutics, and rapid-response testing for COVID-19 could contribute to the possibility of public gatherings.”
Without significant advancements against the virus, participating in the 2021 Olympics is not going to be a top priority for NBA owners.