With the Conference Finals in full swing, the NBA is nearing the finish line of a successful 2019-20 season restart in the Orlando bubble amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Of course, there is still plenty of speculation regarding how the unprecedented circumstances of this season will affect the timeline moving forward. The league initially hoped for the Draft and free agency to take place in the middle of October before starting the 2020-21 season at some point in December.
Commissioner Adam Silver has since acknowledged that this was still a bit too early given all the factors that have yet to come into play.
As a result, the NBA and the NBPA agreed to have the bulk of the offseason activities will be held roughly one month after the Finals conclude. Although it had already be reported that the season would not begin earlier than Christmas Day, Silver said during an appearance on CNN that start in the new year is much more likely:
“My best guess is that even though it will be the 2020-21 season, that season won’t start until ’21. We said a week ago or so that the earliest we would start is Christmas of this year, but the more I’m learning, and listening to Dr. Fauci, I continue to believe we’re going to be better off getting into January.”
Pushing the season back give the league more time to figure out the looming financial repercussions of the season and negotiate a new salary cap for next year. It also allows bubble teams that made deep playoff runs get better adjusted during a potential truncated offseason.
Meanwhile, non-bubble teams began their voluntary group workouts at their own facilities this month and can hold them through Oct. 6. The program is divided into two phases that began with individual workouts before going on to team activities such as scrimmages.
Aside from finding their bearings both on and off the court, the NBA will also need to consider how their new calendar coincides with the Olympics that were postponed to 2021. The potential time frame could lead to another difficult choice for players wanting to take part so close to the start of next season.
One of the few silver linings is that the NBA should now have an opportunity to learn from the study the protocols that have allowed professional sports leagues like the NFL to have fans in attendance.
NBA Draft delayed
The 2020 NBA Draft was delayed for a second time and now is scheduled to take place Nov. 18.
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