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Report: NBA teams preparing for free agency to begin within 2-3 days of draft

Lakers guard Avery Bradley and Magic guard Markelle Fultz

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: Avery Bradley #11 of the Los Angeles Lakers guards Markelle Fultz #20 of the Orlando Magic as he takes the ball down court in the game at Staples Center on January 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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With Dec. 22 as the targeted start date for next season, the NBA is reportedly eying Dec. 1 to open training camps.

You might remember Dec. 1 as the anticipated start of free agency.

But beginning free agency and training camp on the same date is obviously less than ideal in normal circumstances. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, there’s the additional complication of players quarantining upon reporting to their teams.

So, perhaps free agency will begin shortly after the Nov. 18 draft.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

It’s unclear whether those teams are just covering their bases or were informed by the league to prepare for an earlier start to free agency. But it’s at least logical to be ready. If the league wants to begin next season Dec. 22, it’s time to get moving.

I wouldn’t be surprised if free agency begins even earlier than Nov. 20.

Owners and players must first negotiate how to handle the salary cap, luxury tax, escrow, etc. But deadlines spur action. Why not move up the draft? That’d push both sides toward an agreement sooner and allow more time for the rest of the offseason. Otherwise, the next few weeks are mostly getting wasted.

An earlier draft would reduce opportunities for workouts. But all teams would be in similar positions. They’ve already had many extra months to prepare, considering the draft was originally scheduled for June.

If the draft can’t be moved, why revisit the idea of opening free agency before the draft? That could give free agents sufficient time to find their next team and report.

The NBA reportedly gave employees Thanksgiving week off in gratitude of their hard work amid last season’s chaos. But that gesture might have to get rescinded. There’s too much money at stake.