The coronavirus pandemic has caused the NBA to readjust its entire calendar. If all goes according to plan, the 2019-20 season will conclude in October. Then the focus will quickly shift toward next season.
The NBA Draft will take place Oct. 16 — roughly four months later than it typically does.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the news.
Game 7 of the NBA Finals is scheduled for Oct. 13. That means there could be a three-day turnaround between the ending of perhaps the most chaotic season in NBA history and next season.
If the Pelicans (28-36) fail to make the playoffs, they will have a lottery pick and a chance to vault to the top of the draft board, even if that chance would be miniscule. If they make the playoffs, they will still have a first-round pick but no opportunity to get a top-four selection.
The predraft lottery will be held Aug. 25. Last season, the Pelicans landed the No. 1 overall pick despite having a 6% chance of doing so. They, of course, used that pick to select Zion Williamson.
Staff members who are considered “high risk” will have to get clearance from a league-appointed doctor to be a part of the resumption in play. If that doctor believes the higher-risk individual’s risk factors “present a direct threat” to his or her health, he or she will not be allowed to participate.
Williamson was superb in the 19 games he played before the coronavirus caused the season to be suspended indefinitely. He is expected to be a part of the resumption in play, which begins next month. The Pelicans are among the 22 teams who are traveling to Walt Disney World to finish the season. They will play eight regular-season games, which will begin July 30. They face a steep road in trying to rip away the Western Conference’s final playoff spot from the Memphis Grizzlies, as well as fending off a host of teams who are also vying for it.
If the NBA is able to successfully pull off finishing the season during a pandemic, many of its player will have little down time before next season begins. The free agency window will open Oct. 18, according to Wojnarowski. The 2020-21 season is supposed to begin Dec. 1. That’s approximately a six-week difference.
NBA players are supposed to report to their home markets by Monday. Teams are expected to travel to Florida between July 7-9. The eight-game “seeding round” will last from July 30 to Aug. 14. The play-in tournament is Aug. 15-16. The playoff will begin Aug. 17.
Over the final half of 2020, the NBA is trying to cram a ton of basketball in.
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