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At this point, the league office, team offices and NBA players would like to take a vacation.
The NBA just wrapped up the 2019-20 season, which lasted another three months in a campus bubble after the league suspended operations for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the NBA has to answer several questions. When will free agency start? What about the season? Will it take place in home arenas with or without fans?
“I don’t know the answer to most of your questions,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at a press conference on the eve of the NBA Finals.
Here is a summary of the key issues facing the league.
When does the NBA draft start?
The NBA will hold a virtual draft on November 18 with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets in the top three respectively.
Since the college basketball season was cut short during the pandemic, NBA teams have relied more on regular season game footage and Zoom interviews.
When does the NBA free agency start?
Usually the NBA starts free agency about a week after the NBA draft. But that start date is uncertain as the league has yet to finalize the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds for next season.
Although the NBA typically doesn’t define it until after the NBA draft in regular seasons, the league expects a significant reduction due to the loss of revenue during the suspended season and subsequent fanless reboot. The NBA and the players union have had ongoing discussions on this issue.
Teams need to know these numbers so they know how to plan their payroll. Players need to know these numbers so they can determine their possible earning power in the open market.
“We recognize that we need to be able to provide them with guidance,” said Silver. “We may not be complete on everything we need to work with the Players Association, but this guide will come. It will be based on the discussions we are having with the Players Association on how to set the limit and fees.”
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When will the next season start?
After initially considering Christmas as the NBA’s starting date, Silver said it was “most likely January”. But even that date is provisional, for various reasons.
One, the NBA and the players union must determine how both sides will handle the league’s financial losses. Second, the NBA hopes to start next season with at least a limited number of fans in their home arenas. Although outside health experts have expressed concern about this idea, the NBA remains open to delaying the season start date to minimize the risks. Three, the NBA must allow for a ramp-up time before the season actually begins.
“If we start in January, that means training camps started about three weeks earlier,” said Silver. “In the longest season in NBA history, many of them continued to train throughout the break. The finals [ended] towards the middle of October and they need a break, physically and mentally. “
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