NBA return timeline, key dates: 2020 NBA Draft set; start of free agency, 2020-21 season still …

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With the Los Angeles Lakers officially being crowned as the 2019-20 NBA champions, the longest season in league history is officially in the books. The Orlando bubble experience was a huge success — both on the court and off — despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but due to the extenuating circumstances involved in creating the bubble and the forces that necessitated it, there have obviously been massive changes to the schedule going forward.

Based on reporting from The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, below is the tentative schedule of key NBA dates for the rest of 2020.

  • June 23: Transaction window opens
  • June 24: Soft deadline for players to decide not to play at Disney
  • June 30: Transaction window ends
  • July 1: Mandatory individual workouts begin
  • July 1: Hard deadline for players to decide not to play at Disney
  • July 7: Nets, Nuggets, Magic, Suns, Jazz and Wizards travel to Orlando
  • July 8: Celtics, Mavericks, Clippers, Grizzlies, Heat, Pelicans, Thunder and Kings travel to Orlando
  • July 9: Rockets, Pacers, Lakers, Bucks, 76ers, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Raptors travel to Orlando
  • July 9-21: Team training camps
  • July 21-28: NBA award voting (awards announced during playoffs)
  • July 22-29: Inter-squad scrimmages
  • July 30: Beginning of restarted 2019-20 season
  • Aug. 15-16: Play-in tournament
  • Aug. 17: Beginning of Round 1 of postseason
  • Aug. 20: NBA Draft Lottery
  • Aug. 30: Player guests arrive in Orlando
  • Aug. 31: Beginning of Round 2 of postseason
  • Sep. 15: Beginning of conference finals
  • Sept. 30: Game 1 of NBA Finals
  • Sept. 28: Beginning of Draft Combine (through early-to-mid November)
  • Oct. 16-Nov. 16: Teams can begin to conduct in-person interviews with draft prospects
  • Nov. 18: NBA Draft
  • TBA: Beginning of free agency
  • TBA: Training camps for 2020-21 season begin
  • TBA: Opening night for 2020-21 season

The dates for the upcoming season are still fluid, although executive director of the NBPA Michele Roberts recently said the latter part of January or February are ideal times for the 2020-21 season to start. Roberts also said free agency could start no later than Dec. 1, giving franchises ample time to strategize for both the NBA Draft and how they want to approach free agency given the projected drop in salary cap space due to the pandemic.

While opening night for the upcoming season is still undecided, the league and the players union did agree that players would received an eight-week notice ahead of when the new season would start. This gives players two months to get back into shape ahead of training camps and preseason games, if those are still part of the plan. With the 2019-20 season safely completed, the league will shift focus on its short-term future, with some very important decisions still on the table.

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