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NBA players union ‘negative’ on league’s Dec. 22 start proposal

In response to the NBA’s proposed 72-game schedule the league is considering for the 2020-21 regular season, which includes a Dec. 22 tipoff, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts says that players are currently mostly against the plan.

With a Friday deadline for owners or players to choose to nix the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, Roberts told The Athletic Wednesday that the proposal is being reviewed extensively. She was adamant that no players’ decision would be reached this week.

“We have requested and are receiving data from the parties involved and will work on a counterproposal as expeditiously as possible,” Roberts said. “I have absolutely no reason to believe that we will have a decision by Friday. I cannot and will not view Friday as a drop-dead date.”

As for the players, a “substantial faction are pushing for the next season to begin on Jan. 18 — Martin Luther King Jr. Day — after free agency gets underway Dec. 1, according to a Yahoo Sports report.

Members of the NBA Board of Governors are mulling the feasibility of a short free agency period following the Nov. 18 draft with training camps starting Dec. 1.

Michele Roberts
Michele RobertsAP

The proposal, in part, is a response to the league’s reported $1.5 billion financial shortfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including loss of in-stadium revenue, the costs of staging the NBA restart near Orlando and diminished additional revenue streams.

Roberts cited the personal sacrifices made by players during this pandemic-laced campaign, which composed of 22 teams restarting and finishing a shortened regular season before a normal postseason format, with the Los Angeles Lakers being crowned champions earlier this month.

While Roberts did not portray any opposition to the league’s initial proposal as a sign of serious labor strife — she shared that players and owners are not far apart on issues like the salary cap and tax concerns, she talked firmly about the players’ desire to proceed with caution.

“Our players deserve the right to have some runway so that they can plan for a start that soon,” Roberts said. “The overwhelming response from the players that I have received to this proposal has been negative.”

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