are on the clock.
offseason — if you can call it that — is here. The Milwaukee Bucks
officially flipped the league calendar to summer on Tuesday night,
capturing their first title in 50 years and turning out the lights
on a season that navigated its way through a pandemic to crown a
much of a break, of course.
The NBA draft,
with the Pistons holding the No. 1 pick and presumably the chance
to choose Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, is fast-approaching on
July 29. Free agency starts in less than two weeks, on Aug. 2. Most
new contracts can be signed starting Aug. 6, and Summer League
opens two days after that.
“We made it. We
crowned a champion,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during the
trophy ceremony in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. “I have to say,
playing through a pandemic required enormous resilience from all 30
teams. Thank you to every team and every player in the league for a
And now, it’s
already next season.
The good news
is there’s a sense of normalcy, even amid a pandemic, and the NBA
plans to continue along that path. Training camps will begin in
late September, as is the new normal. Preseason games are back in
early October, and the league’s 76th season — even though it’ll be
celebrating its 75th anniversary all year long — starts Oct.
That’s not even
three months away.
was the storyline of the entire season — obviously, since it has
been the storyline across the entire planet — and no one in the NBA
expects that next season will be able to start without the
continued threat of COVID-19. Protocols will remain in place; how
many and how strict will depend on the virus and what’s happening
in the world in a few months.
“I think the
players have a better understanding of sort of what we’re up
against in trying to run this business and I think we have a better
understanding of the players and what it’s like to travel the
amount they do and to the stresses they’re under, the emotional and
physical burdens they’re under by competing at this level,” Silver
said at the start of the Finals. “And hopefully we can continue to
build on that.”
Some issues to
watch over the coming days and weeks:
time with injuries was a major issue this season and the offseason
already has seen more news on that front.
of the Los Angeles Clippers just had surgery to repair a partially
torn ACL; injuries to that ligament, unfortunately, aren’t rare in
basketball, but partial tears are not exactly common. The Clippers
haven’t said how long they think he’ll be sidelined. ACL
reconstruction tends to cost players several months, and that means
the start of Leonard’s season is in obvious doubt.
helped Phoenix get to the NBA Finals and now has a decision to make
about his $44 million option for next season. He could opt-in and
stay, or opt-out — and quite possibly still stay, if he and the
Suns work out a new deal.
There will be
plenty of seasoned veterans on the market, including Kyle Lowry and
Mike Conley. Leonard could be a free agent as well, if so
situation to watch will be Victor Oladipo, most recently of Miami
and someone who would like to remain with the Heat. He’s coming off
another leg surgery and may not be ready to start next season,
which could certainly affect his number of suitors — and how much
they will be willing to offer him.
Check out BasketballNews.com's
ranking of the top-10 free agents who are available.
first, followed by Houston, Cleveland and Toronto. Orlando has two
picks in the top eight and Oklahoma City has three picks in the
first 18 — the start of the massive haul of draft capital that the
Thunder have acquired in recent years.
seven teams will open next season with new coaches: Washington, New
Orleans, Dallas, Indiana, Orlando, Boston and Portland.
coaches have been hired in some places and the staff shuffling will
continue in many NBA cities over the next few weeks.
The draft, free
agency and summer league will provide the first hints on how the
teams with new coaches will change their respective franchise’s
approach this coming season.
The NBA still
hasn’t said if the Toronto Raptors can truly be the Toronto Raptors
for teams to cross the U.S.-Canada border during the pandemic meant
the Raptors couldn’t get in or out of their home for games, so this
season was spent with them displaced in Tampa, Florida. And while
the Raptors spoke highly of Tampa, they don’t want to be back
There are good
signs in that regard — among them, the Toronto Blue Jays will be
playing their home games in Canada again starting July 30 — but
there has been no official announcement yet from the league that
NBA teams will be able to cross the border this fall.