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National Basketball Players Association approves plan to start season on Dec. 22

Financial negotiations are still ongoing, but there will be more ball before the calendar turns.

It’s just about official: for decades to come, the 2020-21 season can be called exactly that (instead of the “2021 season”). The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) voted Thursday night in agreement with the NBA’s plan to begin the new season on Dec. 22. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

The NBPA’s board of player representatives voted to approve the pre-Christmas start on a conference call with NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, sources said. The NBA and NBPA are planning to discuss the opening of free agency as quickly as possible after the Nov. 18 NBA draft to accommodate player movement with such a short window to the opening of training camps on Dec. 1, sources said.

In a statement, the NBPA said: “Additional details remain to be negotiated and the NBPA is confident that the parties will reach agreement on these remaining issues relevant to the upcoming season.”

The league and players are still negotiating financial terms of an amended collective bargaining agreement, and those talks are expected to extend into next week, sources said. Once a formal agreement is reached, the league will lift a moratorium and reopen the league for business on trades prior to the draft.

The layout for the upcoming season includes a 72-game regular season at least beginning in fanless arenas, no All-Star game, playoff play-in tournament, and the playoffs would end prior to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in July.

As a little added bonus for future consideration, Woj reports that there were some talks about starting free agency ahead of the draft. While that is impossible this year because of the tight time frame, and it would require a complete restructuring of the league’s entire financial schedule, it is an idea supported by teams during “ordinary times” and possibly something to keep an eye on in future negotiations (along with other aspects adopted this season).