USATSI

The NBA’s experiment inside the Orlando bubble has gone off, largely, without a hitch. The league has gone months without a positive COVID-19 test, and we’ve reached the latter stages of the postseason with no immediate obstacles standing between the remaining teams and finishing the season. Now, the league has to figure out how what’s going to happen next season. 

The timeline is becoming more clear as the NBA has reportedly informed the Board of Governors that the 2020-21 season won’t begin earlier than Dec. 25, according to Shams Charania. These changes echo previous concerns about the condensed offseason schedule. Players who last deep into the postseason in the bubble would need more time to recover for next season, while the league needs more time to assess its financial situation for the coming seasons in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.  

As for the NBA Draft and free agency, the league had initially set their dates for the middle of October. Yet the further we get into the bubble, the unlikelier those dates seem. Now, some of them have officially been moved back. The NBA and the NBPA have agreed to push back the 2020 NBA draft (scheduled for Oct. 16) and free agency (Oct. 18), according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania

The league has now confirmed Nov. 18 as the revised date for the draft, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. A big part of the reason that teams wanted to delay the date of the draft is to allow the league and players association more time to negotiate the new salary cap numbers for next season. Those numbers need to be in place so that teams can make trades on and around draft day.

Delaying the start of next season buys the league and the player’s association some time to figure out the financial aspect of the NBA’s future, and it will also give players more time to rest up before another season. However, at a certain point, the league won’t be able to wait anymore, and will have to just make a decision about what they’re going to do regardless of the state of the coronavirus pandemic; they can’t delay the 2020-21 season forever. But for now, it’s wise to buy themselves some time.

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