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Home » Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics Could Be Hurt By December Start To NBA Season
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Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics Could Be Hurt By December Start To NBA Season

The reports that began circulating on Friday that the NBA is looking to begin the 2020-2021 season on Dec. 22 rather than on Martin Luther King Jr. Day or an even later date sent shockwaves throughout the basketball world.

The proposed 72-game schedule, as John Hollinger eloquently put it for The Athletic, means that the league is writing next season off as a “sunk cost” where a coronavirus vaccine won’t be widely available quickly enough to have arenas packed with fans. And therefore, it would be best to get next season done before next July and start a 2021-2022 campaign as close to the regular NBA calendar as possible.

Of course the impacts of an early schedule could have a negative impact on the teams that played deepest and latest into last season at the Orlando bubble. The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2019-2020 championship just 13 days ago, on Oct. 11. They would then have just 72 days to prepare for the 72-game season, which includes getting a roster together, going through some kind of training camp and possibly a preseason yet to be announced before a new season begins.

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That’s just over 10 weeks for 35-year-old LeBron James and 27-year-old Anthony Davis, assuming he resigns with the team, and the rest of the Lakers to rest their bodies and prepare for a new season. The Lakers may have to do some free agency work depending on the player options of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee.

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A champion during a normal NBA season usually has around three months to rest before training camp begins. Could that mean a slow start to next season for the Lakers? Of course. They’d likely have to rely on Davis and young depth to help LeBron stay healthy and in peak condition in the playoffs after what will be the shortest offseason in league history.

The Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat will have the same amount of time, though aside from Jimmy Butler, Miami has a younger core of players in Bam Adebayo (23), Tyler Herro (21), Duncan Robinson (26) and Kendrick Nunn (25) who can help the team through a shorter offseason and a more condensed schedule. That’s especially true depending on the free agency of Goran Dragic, Jae Crowder, Derrick Jones Jr. and others.

Los Angeles ended the Denver Nuggets’ season on Sept. 26, exactly four weeks ago. That’s an extra 15 days of rest for a team already led by two great young players, 25-year-old Nikola Jokic and 23-year-old Jamal Murray to go with 22-year-old Michael Porter Jr. After the longest season of all their lives, will Denver go through an early season letdown, especially if it loses free agents like Paul Millsap, Jerami Grant (player option), Torrey Craig (restricted) and Mason Plumlee.

It also must’ve been a letdown for the Boston Celtics to lose to the Heat in the conference finals on Sept. 27, one day later than the Nuggets. Like Denver, Boston has a tremendous young core with 22-year-old Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown who celebrates his 24th birthday on Saturday next to 30-year-old Kemba Walker. Unlike Denver, it’s expecting little change in free agency with Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter likely opting in to their contracts for next season.

With less time to rest than most teams, eight of whom haven’t played since March, will the four conference finalists feel like less is on the line and conserve their stars more as the season begins? If so, it could mean that the Lakers, Heat, Nuggets and Celtics could start next season off slower than many will expect.

Source: Forbes – Business

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