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Golden State and every other NBA team will be allowed to meet face-to-face with draft prospects
What comes next for the NBA: A roadmap to an extremely unusual offseason
When the NBA Bubble in Orlando popped on Sunday night, it heralded a successful end to an approach that was fraught with risks. Though some peripheral personnel did indeed test positive, the fact that the NBA was able to navigate 172 games without any hiccups was a major victory.
Just announced by Shams Charnia, the league is going to continue to balance the prerequisite safety measures with their need to conduct their business. This is huge for the Golden State Warriors organization as they try to make the perfect choice with this year’s number two overall pick.
As Bob Myers recently said, the in-person workouts are a major step towards normalcy, and a much-needed personal touch point prior to the Warriors most important draft pick in years:
"I value body language, eye contact and those type of things," Myers said in early June. "Even seeing a guy move within your own gym -- you want to see them. Even if it's 1-on-0. There's value in that. And additionally, you're not just hiring someone -- you're guaranteeing them tens of millions of dollars for some of these top picks. The comfort level diminishes the less exposure and interaction you have."
Now, the league moves into an offseason full of unknowns. With many details still needing to be figured out, here’s a rough roadmap for what will happen before the Golden State Warriors return to action.
Set the salary cap
Under normal circumstances, the NBA salary cap adjustments are a fairly rote exercise. Using total league revenue, the annual salary cap defines some basic salary levels like the mid-level exception, max player contract, and where the luxury tax line is. However, these times we are living in are far from normal.
As reported earlier, the league and players agreed to a broad salary reduction that saw players receive about 85% of their original salary after the Corona virus laid waste to the NBA season - and much of America. Now comes the hard part: figuring out how to eat somewhere around a billion dollars in lost revenue.
Historically, the players have rejected cap smoothing - a process where changes in league revenue are slowly distributed in order to avoid system shocks like the one that allowed the Warriors to add Kevin Durant as a free agent. Times are different now, and NBA Player’s Association head, Michele Roberts has been vocally supportive of Commissioner Adam Silver’s general framework for resumption of the league’s upcoming season - whenever that may be.
Still, with around 40% of the league’s previous $8 billion in revenue coming from having fans in attendance, this negotiation could be painful. Adam Silver recently admitted that these negotiations could be “difficult.”
“There’s no doubt there are issues on the table that need to be negotiated,” Silver said during his annual press conference, prior to Game 1 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night. “I think it’s — we’ve managed to work through every other issue so far. I think we have a constructive relationship with them. We share all information. We look at our various business models together. So I think while no doubt there will be issues and there will be some difficult negotiations ahead, I fully expect we’ll work them out, as we always have.”
the NBA Draft
The one and only aspect of the impending season that is even remotely set is the NBA draft: currently scheduled for November 18th.
Not much to say beyond this. We (and everyone else) have covered the Warriors primary options in the draft, but just to reiterate:
Package the pick and aim for a superstar;
Take a shot at the best player available with the #2 overall pick;
Trade down for something.
Keep in mind that the Warriors have two additional picks - on top of the second overall, Golden State also holds picks #48, #51 (from Jazz and Mavs). They’ve become accustomed to taking shots at people lower in the draft, so don’t entirely dismiss those later picks.
December should offer clarity
There are a lot of other moving pieces that the league will need to set in place prior to commencing their next season, whenever that may be.
The best current guess is the latter part of January or February for when the 2020-21 season might start - which puts free agency starting in early December. We will presumably also find out about the schedule around this time, or perhaps a bit later as the league wrestles with the need to have arenas full of fans in order to make the NBA finances work. Some ideas being floated around out there include things like baseball-style homestand series, where teams would do shorter bubble stints - though how this would work with fans remains to be seen.
If other live events can serve as a weather vane, then we could be in for some extended waits for packed stadiums. As most restaurants, bars, and small music venues can attest: operating at reduced capacity is often worse than just remaining all the way closed, because of overhead costs. The NBA has frequently stated that in-person attendance is nearly mandatory for their bottom line, so hopefully we will all have a bit more clarity on the Covid situation in a couple more months.
For all of us - and the NBA - clarity and a return to normalcy would be extremely welcome. And given how long we’ve been in lockdown, what’s another couple of months?