While the NBA season ended a month ago, the next season is set to tip-off on Dec. 22 for a 72-game regular season.
On Thursday night, the National Basketball Players Association player representatives completed a vote approving a Dec. 22 start date for a 72-game regular season.
The trade moratorium is expected to be lifted shortly prior to the 2020 NBA draft on Nov. 18. The NBA calendar leading up to opening night is as follows:
- Nov. 18: NBA Draft **
- Nov. 20: Free agency begins at 6 PM EST
- Nov. 22: Free agency signings can begin at 12:01 PM EST
- Dec. 1: Training camps open
- Dec 22: Opening Night
* * Freeze on trades being lifted is still in negotiations between league executives but is expected to lift in the Nov. 16 range.
This will be the shortest offseason in NBA history for the defending champions Los Angeles Lakers and runner-ups Miami Heat, with only seven weeks separating the end of the NBA Finals and the beginning of training camp. On the other hand, the teams who didn’t make the NBA bubble haven’t competed in an NBA game since early March. This offseason is unlike any other because the year it falls in has been unlike any other.
Free-agent negotiations will be allowed to start at 6 PM on Nov. 20. Signings are permitted to begin at 12:01 PM on Nov. 22. This is an extremely condensed window for the NBA, as free agency talks typically span a week before the beginning of signings.
By the start of free agency, many rosters could already be revamped because trades will likely be permissible before Nov. 18. Still, there are close to 100 players entering this year’s free agency unrestricted – including the Raptors’ Fred VanVleet and the Celtics’ Marcus Smart.
The most striking decision out of the league’s negotiations revolves around the upcoming salary cap. According to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps, the league decided to allow the salary cap and tax level to remain the same. That means that the cap is $109.14 million with the tax level at $132,627,000.
The tax bill will be reduced at the end of the season based on the percentage of basketball-related income, a price that is sure to drop due to fan attendance being limited. For example, if the Golden State Warriors used their $17.2 million trade exception and their revenue decreased by 30%, they could save close to $50 million.
Teams strapped for salary space like the Warriors – who have committed $103.1 million to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins next season – benefit heavily from this decision. The Milwaukee Bucks also benefit, as they desperately need to revamp their roster in order to keep their star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who they will also need to offer a supermax contract.
This season, like most things in 2020, will look much different. Teams will play a condensed 72-game schedule. Fans will be allowed to attend games in cities where COVID-19 laws permit large gatherings.
The NBA sent its teams a memo with protocols for eligible markets to host fans, requiring courtside attendees to register negative COVID-19 tests two days prior to the game, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. All fans in attendance will be required to wear masks, social distance and complete symptom surveys.
The details of this upcoming campaign are more than likely to change, as the country’s COVID-19 numbers continue to change. The only details really worth noting are that the season starts in 36 days, free agency starts in 7 days and the NBA is officially back in act