Basketball fans may not have to wait long for the return of the NBA, according to new reports

nba finals
The 2020 NBA Finals
| Credit: Getty Images

The NBA may return to televised games in as little as three months, according to a new report from The Athletic.

After NBA commissioner Adam Silver dismissed the possibility of the next season starting anytime this year, the league is zeroing in on a date sometime in January, the outlet reported. Specifically, the NBA would like games to begin on Jan. 18, which is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

"The latter part of January, February makes sense. If it's later than that, if we have a terrible winter because the virus decides to reassert herself, that's fine," National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts told The Athletic.

"The absolute earliest would be January, and that's doable," she added.

Despite its success, the 2020-2021 season would not occur inside a "bubble" like last season's restart and playoffs, CBS Sports reported. The league and players would like to play a full, 82-game season with reduced travel to arenas and the possibility of having fans. But there are a few things left to figure out in a relatively short amount of time.

"Our players and the teams are on the same place here: We need to get a cap and we need to know what the tax is," Roberts told The Athletic. "I think the teams want to … as quickly as possible after the draft and before free agency … plan and prepare. I don't blame them."

Adam Silver
Adam Silver
| Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty

"The worst positions for teams to be in is having no certainty," Roberts continued. "One of the first orders of business will have to be to agree on the cap, agree on the tax, so teams can draft intelligently, trade intelligently and deal with free agency. And our players want to know, too."

"It's amazing what needs to be accomplished in the next six weeks, but it has to be done," she said. "I feel sooner rather than later."

If the NBA does return on MLK, Jr. Day, it would be especially fitting for the Atlanta Hawks, who recently announced black and gold "MLK City Edition" uniforms, which feature the civil rights leader's initials on the front of the jersey. The uniforms were made in collaboration with the King Estate Foundation, NBA, NBPA, and Nike.

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The league itself has continually highlighted social justice issues this year after the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Since restarting the season in July, the NBA has supported the Black Lives Matter movement by placing the phrase on its courts and allowing players to wear it on their jerseys (along with other calls to action).