NBA Draft shifted to November 18

NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum holds a card of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who will have the first selection of the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo by Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The National Basketball Association has formally shifted the date of its upcoming 2020 Draft to November 18, with the 33-day delay from prior scheduling further signifying the start of the league’s 2020-21 season will also be pushed back from its original target, and perhaps significantly.

The league said the movement of the 2020 NBA Draft from its original date of October 16 to November 18 will “allow additional time to conduct the 2020 pre-draft process, gather more information about the potential start date of the 2020-21 season and advance conversations between the NBA and National Basketball Players Association regarding related collective bargaining agreement matters.”

The November 18 date also remains subject to further change, the NBA said.

The exact structure for the NBA Draft has not been finalized, but a virtual format similar to what the National Football League, Women’s National Basketball Association, and others have done is most likely as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. The Minnesota Timberwolves have the first overall selection after winning the NBA Draft Lottery last month.

The date shift for the NBA Draft, however, also gives further weight to a later-than-expected beginning to the league’s next season. Already, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said the original target of December 1 to start the 2020-21 campaign is “feeling a little bit early to me,” and he and league owners are pushing to have as many games as possible with fans in attendance.

To that end, multiple reports have suggested that the next NBA season under no circumstances will begin now before Christmas, and industry sources suggested it’s possible that next season may not start until February, near when the midseason All-Star Game happens in a normal campaign. 

Along with the schedule, the NBA and NBPA must also resolve in the coming weeks several other key issues, including the 2020-21 salary cap and luxury tax threshold, and details around the upcoming free agency period.