The NBA and the NBPA have reached an agreement in principle to a Dec. 22 start to the 2020-21 NBA season with a 72-game schedule and free agency beginning on Nov. 20, the two parties announced early Tuesday.
The agreement will be subject to a vote by the NBA’s board of governors. NBA general managers also have a meeting Tuesday afternoon to discuss matters.
Tuesday’s deal gets the ball rolling for what promises to be an action-packed and condensed window before games resume as free-agent negotiations open at 6 p.m. on Nov. 22 and signings start at 12:01 p.m. ET on Nov. 22. Typically the league has about a week between the start of talks and when deals are inked.
Beyond the opening of training camp on Dec. 1 and tipoff on Dec. 22, the rest of the calendar remains blank with the league promising to reveal a full regular-season schedule in the coming weeks.
Many rosters could be considerably reshaped by then, with trades likely to be permissible again in the coming days — the exact details there still being worked out — and the NBA draft set to take place Nov. 18. Player and team options likely will be settled around that same time. Free agency starts two days after the draft, with around 100 players set for unrestricted status.
The agreement also puts in place financial adjustments to parts of the CBA that are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A new system will be used to ensure the agreed-upon split of basketball-related income continues.
The salary cap and tax level will remain unchanged at $109.1 million and $132.6 million, respectively. However, the numbers will be affected by the shortened scheduled as last year’s were based on the normal 82-game slate. These figures are also guaranteed to increase year over year by a minimum of three per cent to a maximum of 10 per cent and tax payments will be reduced in proportion to any decreases in basketball-related income.
There are countless other issues to work out, such as all the health and safety protocols now that games won’t be played in the safety of a bubble and teams will be travelling to various cities once again.
For the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, it will be the shortest off-season in NBA history — with seven weeks separating the end of the NBA Finals and the planned Dec. 1 start of training camp.
But for the eight teams that didn’t make the NBA bubble in Orlando this summer — Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Charlotte, Golden State, Minnesota, New York and Detroit — they haven’t played since the second week of March. The NBA shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 11, then took 22 of its 30 teams to Disney to resume the season in July.
With files from The Associated Press