It wasn’t long ago that NBA teams and players were expecting the 2020/21 season to begin sometime in the new year, perhaps even as late as March. However, after the league changed course last month and proposed a pre-Christmas restart, those teams are now preparing for free agency to begin in a week and for the regular season to tip off in less than six weeks.
With things moving so quickly, teams feel frustrated by the lack of information and clarity they’ve received from the NBA about how everything will work, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
The league still has to finalize several short-term logistical details for the offseason, like when player and team option decisions are due or when trade exceptions will expire. Teams also have a number of questions about the health, safety, and travel protocols for the regular season, and are feeling pressure to figure out their plans for allowing fans into arenas.
“We know it’s hard, and they’re working on a lot of details,” one team president told ESPN. “They are listening to a lot of feedback from all of us. But at times we feel like we’re in the dark and that can get frustrating.”
“Nobody knows the rules,” a separate executive said, “and (the league) is making it up as it goes along.”
As Bontemps points out, when the NBA planned its summer restart to complete the 2019/20 season, it took several months for the league to work out all its safety protocols for the bubble. With no plans to create another bubble for ’20/21, the league and its teams must figure out how they’ll keep players, coaches, and other employees safe as clubs fly all over the country and fans are potentially allowed back into arenas. The timeline to establish all those new protocols is far more compressed than it was earlier this year.
“Everything is happening last minute, in a short period of time,” an Eastern Conference executive told ESPN. “There’s not much time to think through things.”