The original dates the NBA set for the draft, free agency and the start of next season may be overly optimistic. The league’s board of governors addressed all three topics during a conference call Friday with commissioner Adam Silver, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Wojnarowski cites a report earlier this week that NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and other union officials have been preparing players for a delay in the start of free agency, which is currently set for October 18. Any changes must be bargained between the league and the union, but there is speculation the delay could be several weeks. Both sides seem to agree that pushing back the start of next season, which has tentatively been set for December 1, would create a greater opportunity to play in front of live crowds.
“Our No. 1 goal is to get fans back into arenas,” Silver said Thursday during ESPN’s draft lottery show. “… If it’s pushed back and it increases the likelihood of fans in arenas … that’s what we’d be targeting.”
Delaying free agency would give the league and the union more time to work out salary cap and luxury tax details for 2020/21. They are typically based on numbers from the previous season, but neither side wants to take that route because of this year’s sharp downturn in revenue.
NBA officials hope a delay will provide more information on how games can safely be played next season with fans in the arenas. Silver has estimated that paying customers provide 40% of the league’s revenue.