The 2019-20 NBA season has been over for only 15 days, but teams are already sick of the unknown.
According to Yahoo Sports’ Keith Smith, organizations have called on the league to offer clarity on the most important offseason dates, and for good reason. The NBA Draft is currently the only event on the calendar, but as rumors swirl about a potential season start as soon as December 22nd, organizations (rightfully) want to know when they can tackle their other, perhaps even more pressing offseason duties.
This goes beyond the regular "tampering" because so many are trying to get a jump on next season, knowing games will likely start within a month or so of the draft and 3-4 weeks from the opening of free agency.
Teams want an even playing field with direction from the NBA.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) October 26, 2020
Since the window to deal with things like player options and free agency continues to shrink, Smith says front offices have started to strike deals behind the scenes *pretends to be shocked.*
We’ve all assumed for quite a while not that many free-agent deals are verbally agreed upon before the official start of free agency each year. However, I can certainly believe that we’re seeing it on a much larger, less sneaky scale this offseason. What this means is that teams not willing to take the back roads could be at a disadvantage when it comes to landing a preferred free agent. Not to mention, certain players may be more willing to accept deals quickly thanks to the league’s current financial circumstances.
At the same time, I have to assume these backchannel conversations are most front office’s worst kept secrets. If one team learns a player is already speaking with a franchise, I’m sure they’re quick to hop on the tamper train, as well. Also, let’s not kid ourselves, this isn’t the most acclaimed free agency class. I doubt there are truly any major, unfair advantages for teams that already have a deal done.
I do wonder what kind of free agent this impacts most, though? At first thought, we probably don’t have to worry about this secret free agency hurting the Bulls. The team isn’t in the running for anyone big, so given their cap limitations, they aren’t likely missing out on much. On the other hand, what if these deals are more geared to cheap role players? Those deals can often be the easiest to make, which means organizations may look to get them out of the way. Again, agents may be more eager to get their players under contract in these uncertain times. If that is, in fact, the case, then the Bulls could be in jeopardy of losing some of the names they were interested in. Of course, it wouldn’t be the biggest loss for Arturas Karnisovas, but it would surely be annoying.
The broader point of Smith’s report is that teams aren’t going to wait for the league office. Whether it be organizations that haven’t played since March or organizations a couple moves away from truly competing, there is an anxiousness to get things back on track. I suspect some of this added pressure could force the NBA and NBPA to quickly agree upon terms for the 2020-21 season. Once, it felt like it would be a while before we saw the NBA again, now it feels like everything could be just around the corner.