LeBron James and the Lakers closed the book on the most unbelievable season in the history of the NBA.
Los Angeles returned home from the NBA bubble near Orlando with the franchise’s 17th championship but only questions and uncertainty are left for the league’s other 29 teams.
Following a four-month layoff without games or full practices, the NBA completed the postseason and wrapped up a season that began a year earlier on Sunday night with Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
When will we see NBA games again?
Commissioner Adam Silver readily admits he has no worldly idea when the next NBA game will take place.
First thoughts were late November or Christmas Day, but Silver said last month in an interview with CNN the likelihood of a regular season starting before January 2021 was highly unlikely due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nothing has really changed in this virus, as far as I know,” Silver said. “In fact, I think in the majority of states right now, cases are ticking back up again. There’s predictions of a combination of flu and coronavirus season. People are moving back indoors. In some cases, people have COVID fatigue and aren’t following the same protocols. In many ways we’re looking at a lot of the same factors we looked at determining what to do this season.”
Billions in revenue were lost by the NBA and details remain to be sorted out this offseason, including the start of free agency and the amount teams might have available to spend under the revamped salary cap.
“Everything — everything — we’re doing exists outside the current collective bargaining agreement,” Silver said.
NBPA executive director Michele Roberts has called on both sides to “resist temptations” to be greedy and settle on a solution, for at least next season, that helps both sides. The NBA had profits of $8 billion prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Not knowing which variables might be resolved — such as in-person attendance — bring doubt as to how quickly the two sides can settle on a structure for the coming months.
Salary cap dilemma
The salary cap was $109 million for the just-completed season, and projections include lowering the cap for one season by as much as $30 million per team.
A solution to hold the cap at the same number for one year has player and owner support.
To get there, more questions need to be answered, especially for the upcoming free agency class and incoming draft class. The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for Nov. 18.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have the No. 1 overall pick, followed by the Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Hornets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons and New York Knicks.
Typically, free agency begins one week after the draft.
Some of the top players potentially available in free agency this offseason hold player options with their current teams. That includes Lakers All-Star Anthony Davis, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward, Cavaliers forward Andre Dummond, Blazers center Hassan Whiteside and Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr.
Roberts said her feel is that the 2021 NBA season will begin in late January or February, giving players who advanced into the playoffs more time to recover physically and mentally.
Is an 82-game season realistic?
Several league officials have said the goal is to play 82 regular-season games in home markets with fans present. But that decision might not be the NBA’s to make.
Silver said last week that the NBA would consider another bubble or campus environment after what was widely hailed as a health success from a COVID-19 standpoint.
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)