UPDATE: Sept. 10, 1:54 p.m. — NBA informed the BOG on Thursday that the 2020-21 season won’t begin any earlier than Christmas Day, Dec. 25, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
NBA’s league office informed Board of Governors today that the 2020-21 season won’t begin earlier than Christmas Day, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Nov. 18 Draft date, 20-21 start date remain fluid.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 10, 2020
A little over a month from the draft to the start of the season seems INSANE. You’d be giving players who are free agents less time to make pretty big decisions on their futures. Normally, free agents have from July 1 until late October to decide where to sign, that’s four months. I realize that most FAs don’t need that much time, but still. My guess remains that the season will most likely start toward the end of January 2021 or early February, possibly with an entirely new League calendar.
UPDATE: Sept. 9, 3:14 p.m. — The League has informed teams that the 2020 NBA Draft will be pushed back to Nov. 18, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday afternoon.
The league has informed teams of a potential revised 2020 NBA Draft date of November 18, sources tell ESPN. The NBA and NBPA have been negotiating on that new date.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 9, 2020
The 2020 NBA Draft, the start of free agency, and the start of the 2020-21 season will be pushed back, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported Tuesday evening. The draft was set for Oct. 16 while free agency would start on Oct. 18 right after. Now, the new dates are yet to be determined, per Shams.
The NBA hadn’t officially announced a start date for the 2020-21 season, but the initial projection was for it to start in late December or early 2021. It’s unclear when next season would start at this point. Considering that the NBA Finals won’t end until the second week of October, we’d likely see the draft take place the end of October, with free agency starting on Nov. 1. This would somewhat duplicate how a normal season calendar would flip like in June-July. Normally, the Finals would end some time in the middle of June, the draft would be 1-2 weeks after the end of the finals, and free agency would take place the first week of July.
With that in mind, normally we’d go July, August and September as the core of the offseason. On that type of timeline, that would mean the 2020-21 season wouldn’t start until perhaps February, which seems pretty late, but makes the most sense. An earlier start to the season wouldn’t exactly be fair to teams who participated in the restart in the bubble. Some teams would get a few months of the offseason before going right into a regular season? If the NBA decided to expedite free agency and training camps, sure, a start sometime in January is realistic.
Wait a minute though, the pandemic is still a concern in the country. So that timeline I laid out for you is all a best-case scenario. It will be interesting to see how the NBA adjust to a regular season plan. First, will they shorten things up or go with an 82-game season, likely altering future calendars. Would they take a bubble approach? Or would they try and contain things similar to how the MLB is handling the Covid-19 outbreaks. The rapid saliva testing could be key in the NBA returning to a somewhat normal regular season.
Either way, the NBA has enough time to figure out the best way to proceed. The Orlando bubble worked out pretty well, so they can take some aspects of that and try and implement it into a broader plan. If the world is able to figure out a vaccine, that would also go a long way in the NBA returning to a normal regular season.