When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forced the NBA to postpone operations for four months, the league not only scrambled to arrange a restart but also organize some semblance of an offseason calendar.
The NBA initially planned to hold the draft on Oct. 16 with free agency starting just two days later. However, because that would put a considerable strain on teams and create the most hectic stretch in league history, adjustments to the calendar were made.
The bubble setup concludes within the next several days as the NBA Finals wind to a close. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Players Association executive director Michele Roberts recently warned players it is plausible the 2020-21 season does not begin until February:
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has been publicly and privately skeptical that the league will start next season on its tentative opening night of Dec. 1. Sources said the union has privately suggested to players that the season could start sometime later that month — or even in January or February.
The NBA gave an initial 2020-2021 start date of December as a guideline but has since pushed it back. Christmas Day was thought to be a possibility, only for commissioner Adam Silver to recently say January was the likely scenario.
A start in 2021 presumably would result in a shortened season, assuming that the NBA plans on maintaining its normal calendar. Playing all 82 games is even more challenging in the wake of the Summer Olympics being postponed to 2021.
If free agency is, in fact, delayed, the NBA Draft could follow suit. While draft picks become locked into a set contract based on their selection in the draft, teams would be handcuffed in regards to making trades with an unclear vision of their financial standing.
The salary cap expects to take a hit following a dip in revenue as a result of the pandemic along with a hit in the Chinese market.
Silver hoping for normal NBA season in 2021
Even in the face of challenges for the league moving forward, Silver’s hope is to play an entire season in 2020-21. He also cited advancements in rapid testing as being the key to possibly staging games in normal arenas with fans in attendance.
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