The longest season in NBA history ended Sunday night with the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Miami Heat, 106-93, to win their 17th championship in franchise history.
Now comes the hard part for the NBA. With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of disappearing anytime soon, the league must begin planning for its 2020-21 season amid unprecedented uncertainty.
The NBA sets its salary cap each year based on the projected basketball-related income for that season. That tends to be a relatively straightforward calculation, as the league can plan to have a full 82-game regular season and four-round postseason with fans in attendance.
However, the 2020-21 season will likely be the exception to that rule.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver recently told CNN’s Bob Costas that the league hopes to play “a standard, 82-game season and playoffs” next year. He added that the “goal would be to play games in home arenas in front of fans,” although he noted “there’s still a lot that we need to learn in terms of rapid testing, for example.”
That could have a dramatic impact on next year’s salary cap, creating a potentially massive headache for the NBA and National Basketball Players Association in upcoming negotiations.