With the 2019-20 NBA season still in a state of hiatus, many discussions have shifted to what the off-season may look like, including the timeline of the NBA Draft and free agency. Given that the season is still in flux, there is still uncertainty with how the draft order will shake out and, on top of that, there is incentive for the league to avoid holding the draft — currently scheduled for June 25 — until after the season has been a) completed, or b) cancelled.
On Friday, word broke that the first domino in the draft cycle has been “indefinitely postponed,” as reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The NBA postponed the May Draft Lottery and Combine today, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2020
Following the initial reports, the NBA announced the postponement of both events, saying “more information on each event will be shared at a later date.” As of now, the NBA Draft itself has not been moved, though Wojnarowski reports that his sources “expect that will eventually be done.”
Wojnarowski also reports that discussions are ongoing on the overall timeline of the league, including the potential for a delayed start to the 2020-21 season.
Among the discussion topics today on the call: The merits of moving back the start of the 2020-2021 until December, sources said. Part of that ongoing converation surrounds the opportunity a delay could give NBA teams to get more fans in arenas for more games next season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2020
Overall, it isn’t a surprise to see the lottery postponed, as the event was scheduled for May 19. Even with some assuming that the NBA could move to a playoff-only mode if basketball resumes, there is at least some question as to how the league will proceed and, as such, the lottery odds might differ based on results should the regular season continue in some form.
As for the combine, the nature of bringing players (and teams) together in that setting is seemingly untenable, especially in the previously scheduled slot of May 21-24 in Chicago. It will be interesting to see how the league handles the future of that event because, while the lottery (and even the draft) could be held in remote fashion akin to how the NFL operated in April, the combine requires a large gathering and thus would be much more challenging.
At present, the Atlanta Hawks have the 4th-worst record in the NBA and, if the league chooses to either cancel the season or move ahead in a playoff-only format, the team would be on track for the 4th-best lottery position as a result. Still, there are many hurdles to jump through before normalcy returns and, as of Friday, it is now common knowledge that the first official “event” of the offseason won’t be happening in its scheduled mid-May time slot.