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:
Some teams, I'm told, are preparing for NBA free agency to begin as early as Nov. 20 or Nov. 21 — 48 to 72 hours after the Nov. 18 NBA Draft — if the plan to start the 2020-21 season Dec. 22 goes ahead. Further clarity is expected by week's end …
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 27, 2020
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.