NBL to push back 2020-21 season until after AFL, NRL finish

The NBL will not begin the 2020-21 regular season until the NRL and AFL have both finished their respective campaigns, the league has said.

Traditionally, the NBL's season has begun at the beginning of October but, with the AFL and NRL Grand Finals slated for the weekend of October 24 and 25, the NBL announced its intention to push back its start date.

The reason, the league says, is to increase the opportunity to have crowds for games; an obstacle most sports leagues around the world face due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's been very pleasing to see Australia leading the way when it comes to bringing COVID-19 under control and life beginning to return to some normality as restrictions are now being eased," Larry Kestelman, the NBL's owner and executive chairman, said in a statement on Friday.

"We are also heartened by the steps other sporting leagues have made as they return to play and we will monitor their progress and work with the relevant health authorities and government as we look ahead to the start of our next season.

"It is our intention to start our season after the AFL and NRL have completed theirs. The lifeblood of the NBL is its fans, and basketball is a product for live fan entertainment and we will be doing everything possible to start our season in front of our much loved fans."

Privately, front offices across the NBL are resigned to the fact that it's unlikely games can be played without the revenue garnered from an unrestricted crowd.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with the clubs and the Australian Basketball Players Association (ABPA) over the coming weeks and months and will provide further updates as more information becomes available," Kestelman said.

"But we are taking a very positive and proactive approach.

The NBL received a significant boost this week with the retention of Bryce Cotton; the reigning league MVP signing a three-year deal to remain with the Perth Wildcats.

The league's free agency period is slated to begin on July 1.