The NBA has asked teams to require COVID-19 testing for fans seated within 30 feet of the court during the upcoming season.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Wednesday that the league sent a memo to all 30 teams about protocols for markets that are eligible to welcome fans during the 2020-2021 campaign, which will begin December 22. A league source has since confirmed the report to the Daily Mail.
The NBA reportedly included language within the memo, requiring anyone who will be within 30 feet of the court to test negative for COVID-19 two days before the game or with a rapid screening prior to tip-off.
Each team will still need to adhere to local health guidelines, regarding capacity, social distancing and face coverings.
Details of the plan have not been revealed.
Then-76ers forward Robert Covington sails into the front row seats as he pursues a loose ball against Boston at TD Garden in 2018. The NBA has reportedly asked teams to require COVID-19 testing for fans seated within 30 feet of the court during the upcoming season
A man gets swabbed by CNA Keila Kelley at the state run free COVID-19 testing site setup on Front Street in Reading, Pennsylvania. The NBA will reportedly require anyone who will be within 30 feet of the court to test negative for COVID-19 two days before the game
The NBA now hopes to have 25-to-50 percent capacity in arena suites for the upcoming 2020-21 campaign.
Charania reported Thursday that the NBA will rely on local health official guidelines to determine overall seating capacity, and masks and social distancing will be required until the pandemic subsides. The Daily Mail has since confirmed Charania’s report about seating capacity in the suites.
On Tuesday the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association struck a deal on a 72-game season beginning on December 22, setting the stage for a quick turnaround from the pandemic-interrupted 2019-20 campaign.
Teams will play a 72-game schedule, which will be revealed in the coming weeks. The league said a new system will be used to ensure that the split of basketball-related income continues, one of the many details that had to be collectively bargained with the union because the current agreement between the sides had a great deal of language that needed reworking because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The NBA believes starting on December 22 would allow for $500 million in additional revenue for the coming season, and the league’s primary television partners also want that start date in part to allow for the traditional Christmas broadcasts.
Some players, however, have said starting in December is too soon for teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat, who were in the Walt Disney World bubble until mid-October for the NBA Finals.
But a January start would mean less revenue, on the heels of a season where the league missed revenue projections by $1.5 billion and 14 percent of the regular season wasn’t played because of the pandemic — meaning players lost roughly the same percentage of their salaries.
Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks falls into the front row as he battled for a loose ball against Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of the Toronto Raptors in the second half at State Farm Arena on January 20, 2020 in Atlanta
Negotiations with free agents will be allowed to begin at 6pm on Friday, November 20, with signings permitted starting at 12:01pm on November 22 – an extraordinarily fast window for the NBA, which typically has about a week spanning the start of talks and the beginning of signings. But with training camps this year beginning December 1, both sides evidently feel there isn’t a need to draw out the process any longer than necessary.
The NBA and commissioner Adam Silver (pictured) believe starting on December 22 would allow for $500 million in additional revenue for the coming season, and the league’s primary television partners also want that start date in part to allow for the traditional Christmas broadcasts
Many rosters could be considerably reshaped by then, with trades likely to be permissible again in the coming days — the exact details there still being worked out — and the NBA draft set to take place November 18. Player and team options likely will be settled around that same time. Free agency starts two days after the draft, with around 100 players set to be unrestricted.
The salary cap and tax level will remain unchanged. The cap was $109.14 million this past season, with the tax level at $132,627,000.
The real numbers will be affected by the schedule – last year’s numbers were based on the standard 82-game season, a threshold that won’t be reached this year.
For the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, it will be the shortest offseason in NBA history – with seven weeks separating the end of the NBA Finals and the planned December 1 start of training camp.
But for the eight teams that didn’t make the restart bubble at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida this summer, it has been a marathon offseason, with none of those teams – Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Charlotte, Golden State, Minnesota, New York and Detroit – having played since the second week of March. The NBA shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 11, then took 22 of its 30 teams to Disney to resume the season in July.
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