The NBA’s best players could miss the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics if the 2020-21 season begins in January.
A December start was suggested for the delayed campaign, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver believes it might now be the new year.
A January start could mean the play-offs finish in August or September with the Olympics set for a 23 July start.
Silver said it was possible “the top 15 NBA players aren’t competing in the Olympics, but others are”.
He added: “And, obviously, there are many NBA players who participate in the Olympics for other countries. That’s something we’re going to have to work through.”
The USA men’s basketball team will be going for their fourth consecutive title in Tokyo next year. The team at Rio 2016 featured Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and Portland’s Carmelo Anthony.
Both the delayed start to the new NBA season and the rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympics are a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are a lot of great US players, and we may be up against a scenario where the top 15 NBA players aren’t competing in the Olympics, but other great American players are competing,” Silver told CNN yesterday.
“Obviously, there are many NBA players who participate in the Olympics from other countries.
“That’s something we’re going to have to work through.
“I just say, these are highly unique and unusual circumstances – I think, just as it is for the Olympic Movement, it is for us as well.
“We’re just going to have to sort of find a way to meld and mesh those two competing considerations.”
Although a schedule has not yet been released, Silver has said that the goal is to start the next season in January with a standard 82-game schedule and playoffs.
A normal NBA season starts in late October with the NBA Finals running through to mid-June, with a push back possibly moving into the same period as the Tokyo Games.
Tentatively, these are due to start in April according to provisional plans, ending in June.
Currently, the Conference Finals – featuring the top four teams in the NBA – are playing the final set of playoff games before the NBA Finals begin next week.
“It is a factor in our planning,” added Silver, speaking about the Olympics.
“It would be tough for us to make a decision in January based on the Olympics happening on schedule when that’s so unclear.”