NBA free agency is usually a weeklong frenzy. Deals get struck, then teams and players must wait a few days before they can sign those contracts. And from there, a few more months often pass before the player goes to work with his new club.
Not this year.
What promises to be a chaotic free-agent window opens in the NBA at 6 p.m. today, just a couple days after the NBA draft, a mere 42 hours before signings can begin and about a week and a half before training camps around the league open. Asked what the player-movement landscape might look like in such a compressed timeframe, Philadelphia 76ers President Daryl Morey — looking exhausted early Thursday as the draft was winding down — offered a blunt prediction.
“Completely insane,” Morey said.
It’s hard to find anyone who’ll argue that.
Anthony Davis of the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers is the biggest name on the free agency board; he turned down his option for this season with the Lakers but isn’t expected to go anyplace else. The most likely scenario for Davis is a three-year deal worth as much as $105 million, the last year at his option. That way, when he completes his 10th year of service in 2021-22, he can cash in again for an even higher percentage of the salary cap than he can command now.
More than 100 other NBA players are unrestricted free agents; another 75 or so can be restricted free agents. That’s a lot of players, who might be doing a lot of moving, with a season coming up very quickly — and only a few teams have plenty of available salary-cap space to sign players easily.
Plus, teams are still figuring out coronavirus protocols for training camp. Nobody has seen the NBA schedule for a regular season that starts Dec. 22. Preseason games start Dec. 11; those haven’t even been announced yet.