NBA Schedule

And-Ones: Mirotic, Schedule, VanVleet, More

Former NBA forward and current Barcelona star Nikola Mirotic announced on Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19, as Emiliano Carchia of Sportando relays. Mirotic said he feels fine and is following doctors’ instructions, but he won’t be playing in today’s game against Valencia Basket and his availability for Barcelona’s next several games will be jeopardized as well.

As noted in an ESPN story on Mirotic’s positive test, Barcelona head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius and assistant Darius Maskoliunas both tested positive for the coronavirus earlier in October.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • John Hollinger of The Athletic takes a shot at predicting what the NBA’s offseason calendar might look like, speculating that free agency will begin right near the end of November (after Thanksgiving) and that Martin Luther King Day (January 18) will be the league’s new target date for opening night of the 2020/21 regular season.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, a series of beat writers – including Eric Koreen, James Edwards III, and Mike Vorkunov – conducted a mock version of Fred VanVleet‘s free agency negotiations, concluding that the point guard’s floor this offseason is probably a four-year worth at least $80MM. In The Athletic’s exercise, the Raptors beat out the Pistons and Knicks to re-sign VanVleet.
  • Life isn’t always glamorous for American-born players who head overseas to continue their careers, according to CJ Moore of The Athletic, who spoke to a number of U.S. players that didn’t have great experiences playing in Europe or Asia.

Michele Roberts Talks Free Agency, 2020/21 Season, Cap, More

Having rescheduled this year’s draft for November 18, the NBA has yet to officially set a start date for 2020’s free agent period. Speaking to Shams Charania of The Athletic, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts suggested that she thinks free agency will probably start no later than December 1 and that the salary cap and tax figures won’t drop too drastically from what was originally projected.

“We can’t go much beyond (December 1) for (free agency),” Roberts said. “We had a projected BRI (basketball-related income), which I think teams appropriately planned for. I don’t think we can deviate much from where we projected the cap to be.

“It may not reflect what people think is the likely BRI, but since I’m of the view this game is not dead and it will rebound, we can do some things with the cap to allow for a free market and not completely destroy what the teams were expecting the cap to be as they were planning ahead. Frankly, I think that’s going to be one of the easier negotiations, figuring out a cap.”

As Charania writes, Roberts met with NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Sunday, and the two sides left that meeting confident that they’ll be able to negotiate agreements on the many cap- and CBA-related issues that must be resolved before the new league year and the 2020/21 season begin.

“It’s amazing what needs to be accomplished in the next six weeks, but it has to be done. I feel sooner rather than later,” Roberts said, adding that she doesn’t believe there’s any real chance of a lockout. “… We’re going to resolve this.”

Charania’s Q&A with Roberts is jam-packed with interesting info and quotes, and is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber. Here are a few more of the most notable takeaways from the conversation:

  • Roberts still views January as the “absolute earliest” possible start date for the 2020/21 season. “The latter part of January, February makes sense,” she told Charania. “If it’s later than that, if we have a terrible winter because the virus decides to reassert herself, that’s fine.”
  • Although Roberts and the NBPA share the NBA’s hope that teams can play a full 82-game season in their respective home arenas in 2020/21, she told Charania that the two sides must be “flexible” and “nimble” as it makes plans for next season. “I’m not of the view that we should wait until we think the arenas can open, because this virus, she’s not cooperative at all,” Roberts said.
  • Silver has expressed some reluctance to change the NBA’s permanent calendar as a result of the COVID-related delays, but Roberts sounds more open to that possibility. “Even before COVID happened, there was a conversation about starting our season later. Why compete with football in the fall? Why don’t we start our season around Christmas?” Roberts said to Charania. “It may very well be that our regular schedule is going to change, not so much because of COVID, but because of the ability to experiment. I wouldn’t bet on returning to the old normal.”
  • Faced with the possibility of the NBA’s basketball-related income for next season dipping from $8 billion to something like $6 billion, Roberts acknowledged that maintaining the 51/49 split between players and owners will be tricky. “It comes down to if it’s a $6 billion pie and our owners are entitled to 49%, and they’re already committed to $5 billion in player salaries and fixed costs for example, where’s the rest of their money?” she said. “There’s ways to take that $6 billion and get to their 49%. One of the ways to do it is to slash player salaries. I got to deal with a constituency that, you slash their salaries, this may be for many of my guys on the last two or three years of their careers. Is there a way to deal with that?”
  • Here’s more from Roberts to Charania on the issue of the BRI split: “We’ll never say to the owners: ‘Y’all just going to have to eat the loss.’ Who’s going to do that? They’re not stupid. They’re not just going to say, ‘OK, yeah you’re right, we’re just going to have to lose a couple billion dollars on our own.’  That’s not going to happen. Instead what you say is, ‘Can we figure out a way to manage that so there is no loss, but there isn’t an immediate pay day. Can you withstand some delay in getting your money?’ I have some real life examples of people I know in my life that say that they live paycheck-to-paycheck. And there are other people that can say that they can deal with deferred compensation. You figure it out.”

Adam Silver Talks 2020/21 Season, CBA Negotiations, More

Addressing reporters on Wednesday before the 2020 NBA Finals got underway, commissioner Adam Silver reiterated that the league’s goal for the start of the 2020/21 regular season is to get fans back in arenas, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press and Mark Medina of USA Today. While it may not be realistic to expect sell-out crowds, especially if no coronavirus vaccine has been approved, Silver is hopeful that the introduction of rapid COVID-19 testing will help matters.

“Based on everything I’ve read, there’s almost no chance that there will be a vaccine at least that is widely distributed at least before we start the next season. I do not see the development of a vaccine as a prerequisite,” Silver said, per Medina. “My sense with rapid testing is we may not have 19,000 people in the building. We’ll see. But that, with appropriate protocols in terms of distancing and with advanced testing, you will be able to bring fans back into the arenas.

“… The question is will there be truly rapid tests, point-of-care testing that don’t get sent to the lab? Are there instant results? There are lot of pharmaceutical companies focused on that. There’s a marketplace for that.”

Both Silver and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts stressed that their preference is not to repeat the bubble or mini-bubble experience for the 2020/21 season, despite its success in Orlando this summer.

“Do I want to do it again? Not if I can avoid it,” Roberts said, per Reynolds. “Those are my marching orders: Not if we can avoid it. Now, having said that, the players want to make sure we can save our season again.”

Silver’s state-of-the-league address touched on a handful of other topics. Here are some of the highlights from the NBA’s commissioner:

On the start date for the 2020/21 season:

Silver recently acknowledged that the ’20/21 season is unlikely to start until sometime in the new year, but on Wednesday he didn’t entirely close the door on a Christmas Day start, even while admitting that it’s unlikely.

“The earliest we would start is Christmas. That’s been a traditional tent-pole day for the league; but it may come and go,” Silver said, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “Probably the greater likelihood is we start in January.”

As Silver pointed out, the 2019/20 campaign has been the longest season in NBA history and many players who participated in the summer restart in Orlando were continuously training through the hiatus, meaning they’re not necessarily eager for a quick turnaround to training camps.

“The Finals will end in roughly mid-October, and they need a break physically and mentally,” Silver said, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “There’s no question about that.”

Silver was also asked about the possibility of shifting the NBA’s schedule further into the summer on a permanent basis, but downplayed the idea that the league is seriously considering that possibility, suggesting that many players want “some normalcy in the summer” and adding that “fewer people are watching television in the summer,” as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps details.

On negotiating Collective Bargaining Agreement adjustments with the NBPA:

The NBA has yet to set dates for free agency, figures for the 2020/21 salary cap, or a calendar for next season. It will need to negotiate those issues – and many others – with the players’ union before finalizing anything. However, Silver didn’t sound concerned about the two sides’ ability to work things out.

“There’s no doubt there are issues on the table that need to be negotiated,” Silver said, according to Vardon. “I think it’s — we’ve managed to work through every other issue so far. I think we have a constructive relationship with (the NBPA). We share all information. We look at our various business models together. So I think while no doubt there will be issues and there will be some difficult negotiations ahead, I fully expect we’ll work them out, as we always have.”

Silver indicated that serious negotiations on the necessary changes likely won’t begin until after the Finals are complete, but reiterated that he doesn’t believe there will be any labor issues.

“I think we all understand the essential parameters,” Silver said.

On the number of Black head coaches in the NBA:

In the wake of racial and social justice protests this summer, the number of Black head coaches in the NBA has shrunk, with Doc Rivers, Nate McMillan, and Alvin Gentry losing their jobs while interim Nets coach Jacque Vaughn was also replaced. According to Bontemps, there are just four Black head coaches left in the NBA for now: J.B. Bickerstaff, Lloyd Pierce, Monty Williams, and Dwane Casey.

Given the NBA’s increased awareness of the importance of diversity in hiring, Silver said the league is encouraging teams with coaching openings to consider a wide range of candidates. However, he said the league office won’t dictate who teams should hire and doesn’t believe the NBA requires a rule similar to the NFL’s “Rooney Rule,” mandating a certain number of interviews with minority candidates.

“We’ve looked at what might be an equivalent to a Rooney-type rule in the NBA, and I’m not sure it makes sense,” Silver said, per ESPN. “I’m open-minded if there are other ways to address it. There is a certain natural ebb and flow to the hiring and firing, frankly, of coaches, but the number is too low right now. And again, I think we should — let’s talk again after we fill these six positions and see where we are, because I know we can do better, and I think we will do better.”

On whether traveling to and from Canada will be possible for the Raptors and other NBA teams in 2020/21:

Since the ’19/20 campaign was completed in Orlando, international travel hasn’t been an issue for NBA franchises. However, if teams return to their respective home arenas for next season, that will be an important factor to take into account for the Raptors and their opponents, since Canada’s federal government has closed its border with the U.S. to non-essential travelers.

Toronto’s MLB team, the Blue Jays, didn’t receive approval from the Canadian government to play in Toronto during the 2020 season and was forced to instead play home games across the border in Buffalo. Silver admitted that he’s unsure what the plans would be for the Raptors, observing that the decision will be somewhat out of the NBA’s hands.

“Obviously it’s one of those things that’s going to be outside of our control,” Silver said, according to Bontemps. “I know (Raptors owner) Larry (Tanenbaum) has had ongoing conversations, as has (president of basketball operations) Masai Ujiri, with government officials in Canada to see how they’re going to be looking at things this fall, but it’s just too early to know. But we will obviously have to work with whatever rules we’re presented with there.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Silver Acknowledges Next Season Unlikely To Start Until 2021

Echoing a sentiment expressed earlier this month by NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told CNN’s Bob Costas today that his “best guess” is that the league’s next season won’t begin until sometime in 2021 (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today).

The NBA previously informed its Board of Governors that December 25 would be the earliest possible start date for the 2020/21 season. Christmas Day typically features an impressive slate of games that showcase many of the league’s best teams, making it a logical option for opening day. However, with the coronavirus pandemic still complicating plans to get fans back into arenas, another delay seems likely.

As Medina relays, Silver also said on CNN today that the NBA’s goal is still to play a “standard” 82-game schedule next season, preferably in teams’ home arenas in front of fans. It remains to be seen whether that will be possible though.

Even if the NBA is able to play a full 82-game season, starting it in January would ensure it runs far beyond the league’s typical end date, complicating the NBA’s ability to send players and coaches to the Tokyo Olympics, which are set to begin on July 23. There’s also no guarantee that 2020/21’s opening night won’t be postponed until February or March, a possibility that has been recently voiced by reporters and players alike.

For now, the NBA is focused on safely completing its 2019/20 season, which will conclude within about three weeks.

NBA Aims For Fans In Arenas, Reduced Travel Next Season

The NBA is looking toward having fans in the stands and reduced travel next season rather than holding games in “bubble” or campus facilities, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.

The amount of fans to be allowed in arenas is yet to be determined but the league would prefer in-market competition, Charania continues.

In recent weeks, the projected start date for next season has been pushed back.

Originally projected for the beginning of December, commissioner Adam Silver expressed skepticism for that target date last month. Silver told the league’s Board of Governors during a conference call on Thursday that the season won’t start earlier than Christmas, while NBPA executive director Michele Roberts suggested that opening night may not happen until the new year.

The league will announce next season’s structure with eight weeks‘ notice of the start date, Charania adds.

The NBA also had a call with the league’s 30 GMs on Friday.

The league still hopes to play a full 82-game regular season schedule but the dates for games and other events remain in flux.

Roberts Skeptical 2020/21 Season Will Start In December

The NBA reportedly informed its Board of Governors this week that the 2020/21 season won’t begin any earlier than Christmas Day. While starting next season on December 25 – typically one of the biggest days on the NBA’s calendar – might seem ideal, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts isn’t sure it will be possible.

“I do think we’ll have a season, but I don’t think it will begin in December,” Roberts told David Gelles of The New York Times.

There’s reportedly a consensus hope among the NBA league office and team owners that the ’20/21 season can tip off in late-December or at some point in January. However, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweeted on Thursday that he wouldn’t be surprised if the season doesn’t begin until February or even March. The league and the players’ union will both have to sign off on a revamped schedule.

One of the NBA’s top priorities for next season is getting fans back into arenas, since a significant chunk of the league’s revenues are tied to ticket sales and in-arena purchases. Roberts is hopeful that can happen, but acknowledged to Gelles that even if there are advances in coronavirus testing and treatment in the coming months, the idea of filling arenas next season is probably unrealistic.

“There will be a revenue drop,” Roberts said. “I do see a possibility of there being some reopening of some arenas. But if we’re lucky we will see 25 percent of the revenue that ordinarily comes through gate receipts, etc. That’s optimistic. Hopefully we can soften the blow, but I don’t see us packing arenas.”

Although Roberts is optimistic that some arenas will be able to accommodate fans – even if it happens later in the season and with a significantly reduced capacity – she suggested that some “bubble-like environment” may be necessary to start the season, given the state of the coronavirus pandemic and how successful the Walt Disney World bubble has been this summer.

“I suspect that we will have a hybrid environment, maybe with division bubbles that last for a certain number of months, and then we stop,” Roberts told Gelles. “But the concept of putting our players in a bubble for an entire season is unrealistic.”

2020/21 NBA Season Won’t Begin Before Christmas

The NBA league office informed the Board of Governors on a call today that the 2020/21 regular season won’t begin before Christmas Day, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Back in June, the NBA penciled in a tentative start date of December 1 for the ’20/21 campaign, but the NBPA never agreed to that proposal, which always seemed overly optimistic, as commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged last month.

The NBA’s goal is to have as many fans back in arenas as possible next season, as early as possible, so the league is somewhat motivated to be patient. That could mean pushing next season’s start date into the new year in the hopes that more effective treatments and/or tests – or even a vaccine – for the coronavirus will be developed.

[RELATED: NBA Hoping Next Season Can Start In December Or January]

While December 25 is typically a huge day for the NBA, with a five-game schedule featuring many of the league’s marquee teams, previous reports have indicated that the league has discussed the possibility of starting next season as late as March.

The situation – including a proposed draft date of November 18 – remains fluid for now, with nothing finalized, according to Charania. Both the league and the players’ union will have to sign off on new dates for the draft, free agency, and the 2020/21 season.

NBA Draft, Free Agency, 2020/21 Season Moved Back

After extended discussions between the NBA and the National Basketball Players’ Association, both sides have mutually decided to postpone several important offseason events, according to Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter link).

The 2020 NBA draft (currently scheduled for October 16), the start of free agency (scheduled for early October 18), and the 2020/21 season (scheduled for December 1) have all been moved back to later dates, to be determined later.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets that several team executives anticipate the rescheduled draft could occur in mid-November, allowing more time after the NBA Finals conclude for a potential pre-draft combine for prospects.

It has long been speculated that the December 1 date for a 2020/21 season start would be moved back. NBA commissioner Adam Silver suggesting in an interview last month that he hoped to wait until fans could attend games in person. The league is hopeful that fast-response COVID-19 tests may enable this to happen sooner rather than later.

NBA Announces Updated Playoff Schedule

After postseason contests on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were postponed due to player protests, the NBA has announced its new playoff schedule for the weekend. That schedule is as follows:

Saturday, August 29

  • Bucks vs. Magic, Game 5 — 3:30pm ET
  • Rockets vs. Thunder, Game 5 — 6:30pm ET
  • Lakers vs. Trail Blazers, Game 5 — 9:00pm ET

Sunday, August 30

  • Raptors vs. Celtics, Game 1 (round two) — 1:00pm ET
  • Clippers vs. Mavericks, Game 6 — 3:30pm ET
  • Jazz vs. Nuggets, Game 6 — 8:30pm ET

While no games have been scheduled beyond Sunday, it’s probably safe to assume the NBA will resume its every-other-day format for each series. As such, the Rockets and Thunder would presumably play Game 6 on Monday. The Lakers/Trail Blazers and Bucks/Magic would do so as well if those series continue — L.A. and Milwaukee currently hold 3-1 leads.

For more details on the resumption of the season and the initiatives that the NBA and NBPA agreed upon as part of the restart, be sure to check out our earlier story.

NBA Hoping Next Season Can Start In December Or January

NBA commissioner Adam Silver acknowledged during last week’s draft lottery telecast that a December 1 start date for the 2020/21 regular season no longer appears likely. However, there’s still hope that the ’20/21 campaign won’t be significantly delayed.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, start dates for next season ranging from December to March were discussed during last Friday’s Board of Governors call with the league office. There’s a “consensus hope” that the 2020/21 regular season can get underway in late December or January, sources tell Woj.

As we’ve relayed multiple times in recent weeks, the NBA is prioritizing getting fans back in arenas next season, since a significant portion of the league’s revenue is generated by ticket sales and in-arena purchases. That still doesn’t seem realistic for the time being, but a number of developments could change that, including the possibility of new therapeutic treatment options emerging for COVID-19 or a vaccine being introduced. Postponing the 2020/21 start date would buy the NBA more time to explore every avenue.

With the NBA apparently becoming more inclined to once again postpone the start of the ’20/21 regular season, the draft and free agency also seem increasingly likely to be pushed back. Wojnarowski reports that the league is “moving toward” delaying the October 16 and the October 18 opening of free agency.