Team executives are skeptical that the league will be able to hold its draft on the scheduled date of October 16, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN, who was in the drawing room for last night’s lottery.
Lowe cites doubt that the NBA and its players union can agree to firm salary cap figures for next season in time for the draft or free agency, which is set to begin two days later.
The salary cap is determined by the projected revenue for the following season, which is based on the league’s revenue from the previous season, Lowe explains. However, this year featured a disastrous economic downturn brought on by a dispute with China and the loss of paying customers due to the coronavirus.
Neither NBA officials or the union want next year’s cap to be determined by that, so it’s possible that this year’s $109MM figure might be carried over into next season with a larger portion of players’ salaries being placed into escrow so they don’t exceed their guaranteed share of revenue.
Lowe expects the process to require extensive negotiations, which could delay free agency into November or December. It may also result in a complete rewriting of the collective bargaining agreement, although he states that neither side wants that.
The league normally provides the final cap number sometime between the draft and the start of free agency, but the current schedule only provides a 48-hour window. Lowe also notes that the draft marks one of the most active times of the year for trades, and teams will be reluctant to make moves involving veteran players without knowing the cap figure.
Some executives have suggested changing the rules so teams can only trade picks before the draft, but many organizations make those decisions with an eye on free agency, which may not have a set date when draft night arrives. Lowe says the league may decide to keep its current draft plans in place or it could try to race through negotiations so it can provide teams with preliminary cap estimates. He emphasizes that nobody really knows at this point what the solution will be.