The NBA will tip-off the 2020-21 season on Dec. 22, a compressed schedule of 72 games with teams flying to visiting markets to play in arenas with limited or no fans. Why? Money. The NBA television contracts generate a lot of money and the league wants to honor them with something resembling a traditional season.
What about the G-League season? Negotiations on its season are ongoing, but the NBA’s developmental program does not come close to generating the kind of money that would have teams going out of their way to make sure it happens. Still, there needs to be a G-League season, which has the NBA thinking bubble again, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.
One of the major challenges for the viability of any G League proposal, of course, is the likelihood that players on two-way contracts might be needed by their NBA teams for much or perhaps even all of the NBA season as teams brace for the impact of COVID-19 cases on rosters
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) November 27, 2020
G-League teams originally were hoping to play games in their arenas and generate some revenue from ticket sales, but that seems unlikely this coming season.
A bubble scenario makes sense in terms of broadcasts and scouting (every team is in one place, not unlike the G-League Showcase event annually in Las Vegas). However, as noted in the report, rosters will be a challenge, especially with teams’ two-way players — usually their best players — spending more time in the NBA because of the condensed schedule (the NBA is allowing players 50 games with the big club).
Bubble or no bubble, the 2020-21 NBA season is going to be unusual.