The 2019/20 NBA season – the longest in league history – finally came to an end on Sunday night, with the Lakers completing a 4-2 Finals win over the Heat. The last game of the season came nearly one full year after the regular season opener tipped off on October 22, 2019, and 468 days after the ’19/20 league year officially got underway on July 1, 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic, of course, dictated the unusual terms of the NBA’s stretch run, but after pausing its season for several months, the league was able to work around the situation admirably.
From the time that teams began to arrive at the “bubble” at Walt Disney World on July 7 through the end of the NBA Finals, only two players tested positive for COVID-19 — and both of those cases were diagnosed during the initial quarantine period in July, before players were free to move about the Disney campus. For the past three months, there have been no coronavirus cases among NBA players in Orlando.
While the NBA pulled off the bubble experiment with aplomb, there’s no time for the league or the players’ union to sit back and celebrate their accomplishments. The two sides must now focus on renegotiating aspects of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in preparation for what will be an unusual offseason.
Typically, an offseason’s key dates and deadlines are established months in advance. However, most of the NBA’s 2020 offseason dates remain up in the air. The 2020 draft has been set for November 18, but it remains unclear when free agency will begin and when option decision dates, salary guarantee deadlines, and trade exception expiration dates will occur.
[RELATED: Michele Roberts expects free agency period to start no later than December 1]
In a normal league year, a team can begin making trades once their season is over, so all 30 teams are free to make deals once the NBA Finals conclude. This time around, a transaction moratorium remains in place, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).
The NBA and NBPA, who will have to negotiate new salary cap and luxury tax figures for the 2020/21 season, along with several other financial and logistical details for the coming season, will also be responsible for determining when that moratorium will end. When it does, trade season can begin in earnest.
Even once the two sides agree to new dates for free agency and other aspects of the offseason, we don’t have a clear sense of exactly how long the offseason will last. The start date for the 2020/21 season is still unknown, with both Adam Silver and Michele Roberts having confirmed that it will almost certainly land sometime in the new year.
The NBA and NBPA would both like to see fans back in arenas by the time next season tips off, so they’re willing to be patient to see if ongoing advancements in coronavirus testing and treatment will make that possible. Although all parties would like to get next season underway in January, it’s entirely possible that target date will be pushed back to February or March.
We’re still more than five weeks away from draft day, but I expect it won’t be too long before we start hearing updates on the negotiations between the league and the union and a potential timeline for free agency. Stay tuned to Hoops Rumors for all the latest news.