There are actually two different NBA draft withdrawal deadlines:
- NBA’s (June 15 this year)
- NCAA’s (originally June 3 this year)
By setting the earlier deadline, the NCAA effective controls the process for college players. To retain eligibility, NCAA players must withdraw by the NCAA deadline – not use the extra days the NBA allows.
That works well enough most years. Though it’d be helpful for college prospects to have the extra time, they usually have a reasonable assessment of where they stand by early June.
But the coronavirus pandemic has derailed the pre-draft process.
Team workouts are halted. The combine has been postponed. Other evaluation events were canceled. Few believe the draft will actually be held June 25 as scheduled.
“The NCAA’s deadline for men’s basketball student-athletes to withdraw from the NBA draft and retain their eligibility will be pushed back from the current June 3 date. This modification is being made with the health and well-being of our student-athletes in mind, along with their ability to make the most informed decisions during this uncertain time, and is based on the recent announcement by the NBA to postpone the 2020 NBA Draft Combine. Out of respect to the NBA’s process, the decision on a new withdrawal date will be made once the league has determined a timeline for the 2020 pre-draft process. Working in collaboration with National Association of Basketball Coaches Executive Director Jim Haney and the rest of the coaches’ leadership, the NCAA membership will ensure that any change supports a player’s decision-making process related to professional opportunities while also protecting their academic pursuits and the opportunity to play college basketball.”
It’s good the NCAA deferred this deadline. The NCAA previously argued for an earlier date so coaches had more information when offering scholarships. Perhaps this signals a large shift in the college-basketball calendar due to the coronavirus.
The NBA reportedly won’t draft until after the current season.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver plans to decide in 2-4 weeks whether to resume the season. If he cancels, the league can then plan the draft.
If he launches a plan to play, there’s no telling how long the season would last. Positive coronavirus tests within the bubble could temporarily delay – but not stop – the schedule.
So, while there’s talk of a draft in August or September, it really depends on the season.
That leaves some early entrants in limbo. But at least they no longer have the NCAA’s withdrawal deadline bearing down on them.
The next step: If (more likely, when) the NBA postpones the draft, expect the NBA to also push back its withdrawal deadline.