It’s only been a couple of weeks since the 2019-20 NBA season finally wrapped up in the Orlando bubble, which resulted in the Los Angeles Lakers winning their record-tying 17th championship.
But SBOTOP NBA fans are already looking forward to the new 2020-21 season, one that could start much earlier than many had initially anticipated and with several significant changes, according to the most recent reports.
Meanwhile, there’s more NBA 2020 news about the coaching carousel with two vacancies filled, while Miami Heat president Pat Riley shared his plans for the team’s offseason.
NBA eyeing pre-Christmas start, 72-game season
The NBA is discussing plans to begin the 2020-21 season before Christmas Day and with a shortened regular-season schedule, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Brian Windhorst report.
Shams Charania of The Athletic has added that the NBA is eyeing a Dec. 22 start date, which would be much earlier beginning to the season than previously expected.
There were rumblings that the league could push back the start of the season to February or March to have a better chance of having at least some fans back in attendance. But with the coronavirus still affecting large parts of the country, it seems they’ve decided to change course.
The NBA is also proposing other changes to the season, including a shortened 72-game schedule, a play-in tournament and the cancellation of the All-Star Game or All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis.
The 10-game reduction to the regular season would help accommodate a potential play-in tournament, as well as an earlier end to the season, which would allow NBA players to participate in the Summer Olympics in Japan should it take place in July.
The NBA shared these plans in a call with the league’s board of governors on Friday afternoon, and the league is planning speedy negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association to implement the plan.
The NBA and NBPA have set an Oct. 30 deadline to finish negotiations on changes to the collective bargaining agreement for the upcoming season. If they can meet that deadline, it would be an important step toward pushing through with their plan.
Pelicans hire Stan Van Gundy as new head coach
Stan Van Gundy has agreed to become the New Orleans Pelicans’ new head coach, signing a four-year contract with the team.
Van Gundy, 61, is the second head coach hired in as many days after the Indiana Pacers made former Toronto Raptors assistant Nate Bjorkgren to be their new coach.
Van Gundy replaces Alvin Gentry, who was fired in August after leading the Pelicans to a disappointing 30-42 record last season and just 2-6 in their eight games in the bubble.
With 12 years of head coaching experience, Van Gundy returns to the sideline after a two-year absence. His last job was with the Detroit Pistons, where he spent four years and made one playoff appearance. He also guided the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals in 2009.
Van Gundy will take charge of a promising young Pelicans team which features 2019 No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson, who had an impressive albeit injury-hit rookie season, and Brandon Ingram, who was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player this past season.
Pat Riley ready to run Heat team back
The Miami Heat were just two games short of winning the NBA championship last season. As a result, Heat president Pat Riley sounds determined to keep the team intact for another run at the title next season.
“We have a good idea of what we want to do,” Riley said in his end-of-season media availability. “We know what our priorities are. It is to take care of the players that we have, that we have to make decisions on almost immediately. We know Bam has a decision to make and we do with him. We know the guys that have sacrificed for us that we really like, our free agents, especially Goran.”
Goran Dragic, 34, missed most of the NBA Finals after suffering a foot injury in Game 1. The veteran point guard had been playing well throughout the postseason, and his absence significantly affected the Heat’s NBA 2020 odds to beat the Lakers.
Meanwhile, Bam Adebayo is eligible for a contract extension this offseason and is expected to land a massive new deal after his breakout season in 2019-20. The 23-year-old big man averaged 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 5.1 assists as he made his first All-Star team and was also NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
Aside from Dragic and Adebayo, the Heat also have decisions to make on their other free agents in Jae Crowder, Meyers Leonard, Derrick Jones Jr., and Solomon Hill.
Next season figures to be more competitive, with the Golden State Warriors set to rejoin the list of championship contenders, and the Brooklyn Nets also likely to challenge in the East. But with Riley still calling the shots in Miami, the Heat will most likely be right in the mix once again.
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