Just two days after WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and WNBPA executive committee president Nneka Ogwumike announced a groundbreaking new collective bargaining agreement on “Good Morning America,” the WNBA has dropped the schedule for the 2020 WNBA season and it features many surprises. For starters, fans will be treated to an expanded schedule of 36 games per team (up two games from the 34 allowed under the prior CBA) — 18 home games and 18 away games. The first-ever Commissioner’s Cup debuts this year too. Here’s what else to look forward to in the 2020 WNBA season, the first under the new collective bargaining agreement.
Highlights of the 2020 WNBA regular-season schedule
The 2020 WNBA season opens on Friday, May 15, with all teams in action through Sunday, May 17.
Friday’s matchups: Minnesota Lynx at Chicago Sky, Atlanta Dream at Indiana Fever and Dallas Wings at Seattle Storm.
Saturday’s matchups: Los Angeles Sparks at Washington Mystics*, New York Liberty at Connecticut Sun and Chicago Sky at Atlanta Dream.
Sunday’s matchups: Los Angeles Sparks at New York Liberty, Dallas Wings at the Las Vegas Aces, Seattle Storm at Phoenix Mercury and Indiana Fever at Minnesota Lynx.
*The Sparks-Mystics matchup will air on ESPN.
Seventeen regular-season games will air on ESPN, including five games on ABC — three more than last year. Two regular-season games will air on ESPN, including the Sparks-Mystics season opener and 10 will air on ESPN2. In the playoffs, the ESPN family of networks will broadcast up to 19 playoff games.
WNBA games again will be broadcast on NBA TV and CBS Sports Network, and those schedules will be released at a later time. Schedules for WNBA games to be live-streamed on Twitter and WNBA League Pass also be announced at a later date. In Canada, WNBA fans can stay tuned for schedules of games to be televised on Sportsnet and TSN.
First, what is the newly-created Commissioner’s Cup?
According to a league press release, the new in-season competition designates “a portion of regular-season games — 10 games per team — as counting towards Cup play.”
The team from each conference with the top record in designated “Cup games” will then compete for The Commissioner Cup title and a special prize pool. Cup games will be the first home game and first road game each team plays against its five conference rivals, all completed from May 15 – July 10 ...
The Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Aug. 14. The date is subject to change because of the 2020 Olympics Games.
2020 Tokyo Olympics
The USA Basketball Women’s National Team will compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, from July 24 through Aug. 9. While Team USA vies for its seventh consecutive gold medal, the WNBA will take a monthlong break.
There will be no WNBA action between July 11 and Aug. 15.
WNBA competition resumes on Aug. 16.
No All-Star weekend — no problem?
The league press release did not mention All-Star weekend because there will not be one — the traditional protocol for Olympic years. There was an exhibition game between WNBA players and Team USA in 2004, and no All-Star Game or exhibition game in the subsequent Olympic years (2008, 2012, 2016).
With the Commissioner’s Cup and the Olympics, WNBA fans should feel fully sated anyway.
The regular season concludes on Sunday, Sept. 20, with all teams in action.
Correction: The number of regular-season games originally was reported incorrectly and has been revised.