NBA

NBA timeline, key dates: Free agency begins; league to tip off 2020-21 season Dec. 22

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The NBA somehow successfully managed to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and complete the 2019-20 season, and after weeks of fraught negotiations, the league now appears to be close to completing the even more daunting task of setting a schedule for the 2020-21 campaign. 

After coming to an agreement last week to start play on Dec. 22, with 72 regular season games on the schedule, the NBPA and the league have now finished negotiating an amended CBA. Free agency began Nov. 20, two days after the 2020 NBA Draft on Nov. 18. Training camps will open on Dec. 1. 

Furthermore, the two sides have also hashed out some important financial concerns for the upcoming season. The salary cap will be $109.1 million and the luxury tax $132.6 million, both the same as last season. As for the escrow — the amount of money witheld from the players in case the league doesn’t meet revenue projections — it will remain at the standard 10 percent to start the season. If there’s any need to increase that percentage, it will be spread out over multiple seasons, with the number never rising above 20 percent in one season, according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. This is a win for the players, considering that earlier in the offseason agents had reportedly been bracing for the possibility of a 40 percent escrow. 

Concerned about such a quick turnaround from last season, players were initially hesitant about starting the season prior to Christmas, and had been pushing for a Jan. 18 start on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Eventually, however, the financial incentives for starting the season early proved too enticing, and they accepted the league’s proposal. 

Below is the schedule of the events involving the upcoming NBA Draft and everything else leading up to the 2020-21 campaign.  

Upcoming NBA schedule

  • Sept. 28: Beginning of Draft Combine (through early-to-mid November)
  • Oct. 16-Nov. 16: Teams can begin to conduct in-person interviews with draft prospects 
  • Nov. 16: Trade moratorium lifted
  • Nov. 18: 2020 NBA Draft
  • Nov. 20: Start of free agency
  • Dec. 1: Start date to begin training camps for 2020-21 season
  • Dec. 11-Dec. 19: Preseason games take place
  • Dec. 22: Opening night for 2020-21 season 

Although the free agency period opens on Nov. 20, only negotiations will be permitted at that time, with actual signings not allowed until Nov. 22. Then it will be a quick turnaround for the start of training camps on Dec. 1.  

With the 2019-20 season safely completed, the league has shifted focus on its short-term future, with some very important decisions having been made and the path cleared for the start of the season on Dec. 22. 



 

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