Along with 2020 free agency and the start of the 2020-21 season, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported Tuesday that the NBA and NBPA agreed to push back the date for the 2020 NBA Draft, which had been scheduled for Oct. 16.
Now, a tentative, rescheduled date has emerged, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski: Nov. 18.
Woj later added that there remain further discussions to be had, but that an agreement could be "finalized soon." That approximate date — Nov. 18 — lines up with a multiple previous reports indicating the draft would be delayed around a month. The last possible day for the 2019-20 NBA season (i.e. Game 7 of the NBA Finals) is Oct. 13.
So why, after waiting so long for the 2020 offseason to commence, is the league again pushing key dates back?
The answer there is a layered one. For one, according to Wojnarowski, the league is hoping that an extra month will allow for a more fleshed out predraft process and combine. Discussions around a virtual combine have reportedly been progressing in recent weeks.
And, as Wojnarowski points out, there's also the matter of negotiating a fresh Collective Bargaining Agreement. The COVID-19 pandemic's impact on revenues — from the stoppage of play the league endured from March 11 through the bubbled restart in late July, to the effect of fan-less arenas — still isn't fully known. Whatever it ends up being, it's sure to be significant.
In response, the league is likely going to have to modify the current CBA. The deadline to complete talks to do so between the NBA and NBPA has already been pushed back twice — most recently, in the last week of August, when the league and players union reportedly agreed to an Oct. 15 deadline to wrap negotiations.
That ensured the 2019-20 season could finish unimpeded by financial considerations, but also left just a 24-hour window between hypothetically agreeing on a new CBA and the NBA Draft, with free agency scheduled on Oct. 18 to boot.
Delaying both until mid-November provides more runway for teams to plan potential transactions accordingly.
The closer we get to the conclusion of the NBA Playoffs, the more intense the spotlight will be on the league's plans for the offseason and next season. The Bulls begin COVID-19 testing for voluntary group workouts at the Advocate Center on Sept. 14 (workouts begin Sept. 21), but the draft and free agency mark significant tent poles for them, as a team both excluded from the restart and looking to right its rebuild under new front office management.
When will the team itself suit up again? That remains to be seen, but listen to commissioner Adam Silver, and it's beginning to seem more and more likely the Bulls' next game won't come until after the flip of the calendar.
“December 1, now that we’re working through the season, is feeling a little bit early to me (to start the 2020-21 season),” Silver told Rachel Nichols on ESPN's draft lottery television broadcast. “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 even a little longer and it increases the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”