The 2020 NBA free agent signing period is already shaping up as one of the league's most unique events in an already odd season.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the NBA to adjust its yearly calendar, the league is currently planning on players being able to sign beginning October 18. Training camps for the 2020-21 season are tentatively set for November 10 and the regular season openers are scheduled for December 1.
Players will have less time than ever to find new teams and the potential flurry of transactions may only complicate those matters.
Fortunately for Sacramento Kings guard Kent Bazemore, he doesn't believe he needs to look too far to find a new contract. The 31-year-old is ready to re-up in Northern California.
“This is definitely a place that I can see myself play for the next couple of years,” Bazemore said during a call with reporters last Friday (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area's James Ham. “With a team with so much promise, I definitely want to be a part of that.”
The Kings acquired Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round picks from the Portland Trail Blazers on January 20 for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan. In that short amount of time, he's already helped a young roster begin to mature.
After averaging 7.9 points and four rebounds in 43 games with Portland, Bazemore's numbers jumped up to 10.3 points, five rebounds over 21 games with the Kings, including a season-high 23 points on February 22 against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Sacramento saw those numbers help steady the roster as the club won 13 of its last 20 games before the league went on hiatus on March 11.
The only question remaining for the Kings is how much it will cost to sign him.
Over in the Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers are looking for a much more immediate addition.
Following the announcement by star guard Victor Oladipo that he'll be opting out of the league's restart to focus on injury rehab, the Pacers are in need of more scoring power and someone who can see the floor well and defend a number of positions.
One current free agent who fits that mold rather perfectly is former Indiana star Lance Stephenson.
It makes sense in that he's familiar with the organization, can sub in at shooting guard or small forward and has experience playing on title contenders.
Unfortunately, it's not possible for the reunion to take place.
According to Pacers reporter Scott Agness, Stephenson is ineligible to sign with a club at the moment. Making the news even tougher to process, Agness notes the morning the league suspended play, Indiana and Stephenson were working on a deal due to injuries suffered by Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb.
Even with free agency still months away, general managers of teams heading to Orlando, Florida for the restart have reason to fear now for how they'll be able to make moves come October.
The housing of multiple teams in hotels on the NBA campus has led many to worry about the threat of player tampering inside the bubble environment.
Ethan Strauss of The Athletic spoke to one unnamed league staffer who said those fears are far from unfounded.
"Oh, it will be tamperpalooza in Orlando," the source said. "That’s for sure.”
Players recruiting each other behind the scenes isn't new.
The groundwork for the Miami Heat to sign LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh happened because the trio all played together on the 2008 USA olympic basketball team. The Golden State Warriors starting lineup was briefly known as The Hamptons Five after Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala traveled to the Long Island region to convince Kevin Durant to team up with them.
Back in 2015, the Los Angeles Clippers' stars stopped DeAndre Jordan from signing with the Dallas Mavericks to keep their core together.
By the time free agency opens up in 2020—to say nothing of the more star-studded class in 2021—players stationed in the Orlando bubble may have already produced the league's next super teams.