These NBA playoffs are far from over, but because of the months-long hiatus during the middle of this year, the league is already making arrangements for how to pull off the draft, free agency, and ultimately the 2020-21 season successfully.
The first domino has reportedly fallen in what will be a long series of adjustments between the NBA and the players’ association, as the draft is likely to be moved back from the initial date of October 16 (mere days after the end of the Finals) to November 18, according to a new report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
In a memo to teams today, the NBA explains that pushing the draft date back from October 16 allows for a pre-draft prep and a combine, more time to gather information on the potential start date for next season, and the advancing of talks with the NBPA on CBA matters.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 9, 2020
The league and players union must finalize adjustments to the CBA given the financial ramifications of the pandemic and the revenue impact of playing in the Bubble without fans. The two sides have to figure out how to proceed and what the salary cap will look like next season (and years to come), factoring in the losses of this season, and potentially the next. According to Wojnarowski, the league is likely to move back the draft a month to give itself time to negotiate the cap and give teams more time to potentially evaluate players in-person.
The reason to move back the draft is because NBA teams need to have a full understanding of what the salary cap will look like for next year in order to be able to make draft night trades. Giving a month cushion for continued CBA renegotiations would hopefully allow a clear picture to be in place by draft night, allowing for the usual array of deals and movement up and down the board.
Being able to focus on real games has been nice, but the financial realities are coming into focus once again for the NBA. Don’t be surprised if we see players putting more money into escrow heading into next season so that the league has excess cash in the event of further financial losses in the coming months. Many, such as former Grizzlies executive and current NBA insider at The Athletic John Hollinger, expect some sort of smoothing on the cap as well, artificially keeping it at or above this year’s level in order to not punish teams who expected it to continue to rise, and spreading the impact of a revenue dip over a stretch of years to avoid a huge drop and later another spike.
In addition, the expectation is that the league will put together some sort of small in-person draft combine that would allow for official measurements, physical tests and potentially drills and interviews as well. While star prospects have shied away from the combine in recent years, it is still valuable for teams to get accurate health records and measurements. Bumping the draft back allows for teams to feel less rushed and more confident in making moves, which is important for both teams and fans who love to see a flurry of activity on draft night.