Report: NBA planning 72-game season that will end before 2021 Olympics

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By RADIO.COM

(RADIO.COM Sports) Time flies when the offseason is only a few months long.

The NBA is targeting a 72-game regular season with a Dec. 22 start date, NBA insider Shams Charania reported Friday, a combination that would allow the league to finish before the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The development came a couple of weeks after commissioner Adam Silver said that it was unlikely the league would stop for the Tokyo Olympics.

With the new plan, the league wouldn't have to stop for the Tokyo Olympics, as it would instead be finished beforehand.

A Dec. 22 start would be earlier than what Silver had hinted at previously, as he told Bob Costas of CNN that his best guess would be a season that began in January, with the earliest start date being Christmas. But there were also previous reports of a Dec. 1 start date, so it clearly remains a fluid situation amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A typical NBA season starts in mid-to-late October. The nation's foremost experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, expect the coronavirus to continue taking away our sense of normalcy well into 2021, so the NBA has made adjustments. The 72-game schedule is 10 games fewer than the typical NBA season.

As for whether a bubble could be utilized again, Charania reported that the NBA prefers in-market play over another year of the bubble(s) for 2020-'21 at this point in time. Reduced travel and repeated matchups are two options to help conduct the season amid the pandemic.

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