The NBA Draft is four days away. Free agency opens two days after that. Ten days later, training camps open. We are just more than a month away from the start of the NBA season.
It’s all coming at teams fast — and they want more information, more details from the league on what the season will look like. Teams know the dates (although not the game schedule) and the salary cap, but not much else and it’s frustrating front offices, reports Tim Bontemps at ESPN (this is a paid article).
“We know it’s hard, and they’re working on a lot of details,” one team president said. “They are listening to a lot of feedback from all of us. But at times we feel like we’re in the dark and that can get frustrating.”
The concerns range from player health to uncertain safety protocols to logistical challenges — such as a tight window to build rosters before play resumes — to general life annoyances, including scuttled vacation plans…
“Nobody knows the rules,” another executive said, “and [the league] is making it up as it goes along.”
It appeared the NBA was headed for a January (or even later) start until the league’s broadcast partners stepped in and wanted games on Christmas Day and other demands. With up to $1 billion in potential lost revenue, the NBA owners and players quickly shifted course, and there will be games on Christmas.
That quick turnaround has left everyone scrambling.
Teams don’t know the dates yet for contract options to be picked up or for trade exceptions to expire, but both need to happen before free agency. Then they also do not have a protocol for game day with players and fans. Those are just the big ones; there are countless details left to be sorted out.
Not only is this season going to come together last minute, but it will also see adjustments on the fly — evolving rules for dealing with the coronavirus, as well as players and likely teams having to miss games because of positive tests will force schedule changes and more. Everything about the season will feel rushed.
That will frustrate teams, but constant adjustment is everyone’s new reality.
Ultimately, the goal is to get this season done, taking a harsh financial hit, then get back on the usual October-to-June schedule for 2020-21, ideally with fans back in the building. That’s the goal. But first, the NBA will have to navigate a season unlike any other.