NBA timeline, key dates: League, NBPA nearing agreement on start of 2020-21 season; NBA Draft set for Nov. 18

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The NBA managed to navigate an unprecedented pandemic to finish the 2019-20 season, but now, an even more daunting task awaits. The NBA and its players are working on getting back on their typical October-June schedule, and the negotiations have been fraught. 

The league office and ownership are being aggressive on that front, planning for an incredibly short offseason in the hopes of getting the NBA back to normal in time for the 2021-22 season. The goal now is for both the NBA and NBPA to reach an agreement on a starting date for this upcoming season, which hasn’t been a simple task so far. 

The NBA is pushing for a Dec. 22 start date for the 2020-21 season. That would give the two Finals teams only around two months for an offseason, and naturally, players have pushed back on this aggressive timeframe. Their preference was for a Jan. 18 start on Martin Luther King Day, but at this point, the NBPA is expected to compromise and accept the Dec. 22 start, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

Below is the schedule of the events involving the upcoming NBA Draft and everything else leading up to the 2020-21 campaign. For now, it is based on the assumption that the league will eventually settle on a Dec. 22 start. 

Upcoming NBA schedule

Sept. 28: Beginning of Draft Combine (through early-to-mid November)Oct. 16-Nov. 16: Teams can begin to conduct in-person interviews with draft prospects Nov. 18: 2020 NBA Draft
Nov. 20-22: Proposed start of free agencyDec. 1: Proposed start date to begin training camps for 2020-21 seasonDec. 22: Proposed opening night for 2020-21 season 

Those last three dates are not set in stone. Negotiations between the NBA and the NBPA are ongoing, but the league is pushing hard for an early start date on Dec. 22. That would reportedly force training camps to open around Dec. 1. The beginning of free agency is more fluid. Teams are preparing as if it could begin as early as Nov. 20, but there is some leeway within that projection. So long as the early portion of free agency is finished in time for the beginning of training camp, there is no exact date in place. 

While opening night for the upcoming season is still undecided, the league and the players’ union did agree that players would receive an eight-week notice ahead of when the new season would start. This gives players two months to get back into shape ahead of training camps and preseason games, if those are still part of the plan. With the 2019-20 season safely completed, the league will shift focus on its short-term future, with some very important decisions still on the table.


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