As expected, the NBA has officially moved up the start of its free agent period, announcing today in a press release that teams will be permitted to begin negotiating with free agents as of 6:00 pm eastern time on June 30. Previously, that negotiating window opened six hours later, at 12:01 am ET on July 1.
The change, which was agreed upon by the league and the players’ union, will also allow teams to communicate with free agents or their agents beginning at 6:00 pm ET on June 29. Communication during that 24-hour window will be limited to scheduling meetings. Those meetings can’t take place before free agency officially opens on the evening of June 30.
Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com reported last week that this move was anticipated, as the NBA looked to avoid having its free agent period begin in the middle of the night. Essentially, the decision amounts to the league starting its July moratorium six hours sooner.
As we detail in our glossary entry on the July moratorium, teams can’t officially sign players or complete trades while the moratorium is in effect, though there are handful of transactions that can still be completed during that window, including rookie contracts, minimum-salary deals, two-way pacts, and offer sheets for restricted free agents.
While trades and most free agent deals can’t be officially finalized during the July moratorium, agreements can be reached during that time. That’s why most top free agents are unofficially off the board by the time the moratorium comes to an end on July 6.