Amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the NBA has been forced to tweak its annual schedule in the weeks and months after the 2019-20 season restarts at the end of July.
The season’s restart is good news for the league, the teams invited to play at the bubble location at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and NBA fans, as games have been put on hold since March 11.
With on-court action pushed back well beyond the usual timeline, the domino effect involves the annual NBA Lottery, Draft and free agency.
Barring any unforeseen changes, the 2020 NBA Playoffs are slated to end no later than Oct. 12 and the 2020 NBA Draft will take place just four days later.
The new dates pushed the early entry deadline to Aug. 17 and players will get a chance to withdraw their names from the draft as late as 10 days prior to the Draft.
Free agency normally takes place a week later after the Draft, but according to ESPN that will happen much sooner this year:
The NBA memo says free-agency negotiations can begin at 6 p.m. ET Oct. 18, with a moratorium on deals being signed until noon ET Oct. 23.
The two-day window between the draft and free agency may cause distress for some teams as that leaves them little time truly prepare and strategize ahead of such a pivotal point in the offseason.
The quick turnaround is especially stressful for those that will be in Orlando and possibly making a deep postseason runs as they will have even less time to get their affairs in order.
That specifically applies to Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis will have to decide on his player option for next season by Oct. 14.
It’s obviously not an ideal situation for the league and its teams but they are working on a tight schedule as they are hoping to begin the 2020-21 season in early December. Dec. 1 was thrown out as a projected start date, but the NBPA has already told players that is unlikely given all the issues that need to be ironed out prior.
While the league has released these dates, they can not be considered final as the public health crisis is still ongoing and may force the NBA’s hand if things escalate and get worse in the coming months.
So far, most of the discussions have been about how to handle the campus environment in Orlando, but the offseason logistics will need to be addressed in the coming weeks as well.
In an evolving situation like this, the NBA can only do its best to plan and think ahead, but remaining flexible will be key in ensuring that the rest of the year goes as smoothly as possible.
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