BOSTON (CBS) — It may seem like the NBA Finals ended just a few weeks ago, but the NBA will be back a lot sooner than we expected. The National Basketball Players Association board of representatives approved a plan for a 72-game schedule that will tip off on Dec. 22. on Thursday, according to ESPN.

The NBA and the union still needs to finalize the deal, as well as figure out an amended collective bargaining agreement. Those talks are expected to extend into next week. But the groundwork is in place to have the 2020-21 NBA season begin in a little over six weeks.

The league will be back open for business once an agreement is in place, which would open the door for trades prior to the draft. The NBA Draft is set for Nov. 18, and the hope is that the league can begin free agency soon after.

That should set up a busy few days for the NBA transaction wire.

Under the agreed-upon plan, training camps would open Dec. 1 — just two weeks after the draft. Perhaps most importantly though, the NBA will still get to host its slate of games on Christmas Day.

With the schedule reduced from 82 to 72 games, the schedule would also wrap up before the Summer Olympics in July.

This is all great news for NBA fans, with some recent speculation having the new season tipping off as late as February. But the NBA will be back much sooner, and with the new season slated to start in six weeks, we’re going to get a lot of basketball news in a very short period of time.

The biggest news from a Boston Celtics standpoint — aside from the season tipping off, that is — will be the start of free agency. Gordon Hayward reportedly wants out of Boston, so we should know in the next few weeks if he’ll be picking up his $34.1 million player option for next season or if he opts out. And once the transaction moratorium is lifted, Danny Ainge can really ramp up his quest to move Boston’s three first-round picks in the upcoming draft.


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