The NBA has firmed up the schedule for what will be a hectic time for teams this fall, deciding on Oct. 16 as the date for this year’s draft and saying clubs can begin talking to free agents two days later.
The annual moratorium will begin at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Oct. 19 and continue through noon on Oct. 23, the league told teams on Saturday in a memo obtained by The Associated Press.
As was the case last season, teams and free agents can begin negotiating six hours before the moratorium — so 6 p.m. EDT on Oct. 18.
It could be a wildly busy few days in October for the NBA. If the schedule for the restarted season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida, goes as planned, Game 7 of the NBA Finals could be held on Oct. 13, followed by the draft three days later and then free agency almost immediately following.
By setting the draft date, the NBA also firmed up Aug. 17 as the early entry deadline and Oct. 6 as the early entry withdrawal dates. It’s unclear if that will change the schedule the NCAA laid out earlier this month, when it said college players would have “until 10 days after the NBA draft combine or Aug. 3, whichever comes first” to withdraw from the postponed draft and retain their eligibility.
The league also clarified the procedure for teams should any need arise to replace a player who either was excused from participating in the restart, would be protected from playing for health reasons or chose to not play.
Starting July 1 and going through the end of the seeding games, expected to be Aug. 14, substitute players can be signed to take the place of someone who falls into those categories. If a player tests positive for coronavirus after the seeding games end, teams would still be allowed to replace them — but only with someone who has three years or less of NBA service.
And if a player — excluding two-way players — refuses to participate in games at Disney, he would lose about 1.1% of his salary for every game missed. That would be capped after 14 games, or roughly 15.1% of the player’s contract. Players who are excused or protected from participating would not be subject to lost salary.
Teams will also be able to sign players to rest-of-season contracts, when eligible, starting Tuesday and continuing through June 30.
Tuesday is also the day that the NBA enters Phase 2 of its health and safety protocols related to the resumption of the season. Among them: mandatory high-sensitivity coronavirus and antibody testing, with the virus test to be repeated every other day and the antibody test repeated only in the event of a positive virus test.