Report: NBA could move back 2020 draft, free agency

USA Today

The NBA and NBPA are again delaying the deadline to modify its collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 season, a development which could impact the dates of the NBA draft and free agency, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday.

Previously, that CBA modification deadline had been set for Sept. 10, but is now being set for Oct. 15, according to Wojnarowski.

That Oct. 15 date is crucial for a few reasons. For one, it falls after the conclusion of the NBA Playoffs, which are being held within a campus environment at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla (a possible Game 7 of the NBA Finals is currently scheduled for Oct. 13). As noted by Wojnarowski, delaying until after season’s end removes one variable from the league’s attempt to crown a 2019-20 champion, while also allowing the league to get a clearer sense of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on revenues.

Oct. 15 also falls just before the start of what was originally scheduled to be a whirlwind 2020 offseason. According to multiple reports, the NBA Draft had been scheduled for Oct. 16, with free agency opening Oct. 18. But with the recent change to the CBA negotiating deadline — combined with commissioner Adam Silver recently casting doubt over the league beginning its 2020-21 season on Dec. 1 — the league is now “moving toward” rescheduling the draft and free agency for later dates, in Wojnarowski’s words.

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In an interview with Rachel Nichols on ESPN’s 2020 NBA Draft Lottery broadcast, Silver reiterated that getting fans back in arenas (and with them, a litany of gate revenue streams) is the league’s top priority for 2020-21.

“Dec. 1, now that we’re working through the (2019-20) season, is feeling a little bit early to me (to start the 2020-21 season),” Silver told Nichols. “Our number one goal is to get fans back in our arenas. My sense is in working with the players association, if we could push back (the 2020-21 start date) even a little longer and it increases the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”

The draft and free agency are two of the only tent poles for Bulls fans to look forward to with the team being left out of the season restart. The Bulls moved up to nab the No. 4 pick in the draft at the lottery on Aug. 20, but are not projected to be a big player in free agency this offseason.

Bulls players and staff who choose to participate will be able to undergo group workouts at the Advocate Center from Sept. 21 through Oct. 6, though, per a plan recently agreed upon by the league and players association. COVID-19 testing for said workouts is currently set to begin Sept. 14.