Report: NBPA Preparing Players for NBA Free Agency to Be Delayed 'Several Weeks'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attends an NBA basketball game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

The National Basketball Players Association is reportedly preparing for the 2020 free-agency period to begin "several weeks" after its current Oct. 18 proposed start date.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the league's financial uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic could cause a delay.

Under the league's tentative schedule, the NBA hopes to begin the 2020-21 season by Dec. 1. However, the ongoing concern amid the pandemic has made that start date less likely, especially if the league hopes to have fans in stands at any point during the season.

Commissioner Adam Silver has said 40 percent of the league's revenue comes from gate receipts and other related purchases from fan attendance. If it's determined the NBA will have to play most or all of the 2020-21 season without fans, there will be significant salary-cap implications.

It is unlikely, given the state of the virus, that the NBA will have a formalized plan for next season in place by Oct. 18. NBPA President Michele Roberts has said it's possible the league will need to create another bubble for players to agree to play next season. 

"If tomorrow looks like today, I don't know how we say we can do it differently," Roberts told ESPN's Tim Bontemps in late July. "If tomorrow looks like today, and today we all acknowledge—and this is not Michele talking, this is the league, together with the PA and our respective experts saying, 'This is the way to do it'— then that's going to have to be the way to do it."

The NBA has found success with the bubble, with no players testing positive for COVID-19 since games began. However, the setup is also prohibitively expensive and not realistic for a six-month regular season. The league and players would have to negotiate the structure of the season and the bubble, which would again set up for a potential delay.

Teams are unlikely to want to begin free agency until negotiations between the union are concluded due to the uncertainty with the salary cap. It remains possible that ownership will use the force majeure clause to terminate the collective bargaining agreement, which would further delay the potential season.