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The New York Times reported Tuesday that some teams are preparing for free agency to begin as soon as two days following the draft.
The quick turnaround time from the end of the 2019-20 season and the start of 2020-21 is more complicated for the Raptors than for any other team.
That’s because key rotation players Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol are all unrestricted free agents, and because it remains unclear where the Raptors will even play.
A team source told Postmedia a number of scenarios have been preliminarily discussed, including the organization’s first choice of playing at home. That is unlikely though, given a current lack of rapid testing and the Canadian government’s 14-day quarantine rules, though things could change.
If Toronto is out, the Raptors will need to find somewhere with access to a quality training facility. Kansas City has courted the team. Buffalo is the closest geographical match, but New York City makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons.
While the NBA is not anywhere close to as much of a gate-driven league as the NHL or Canadian Football League, gate receipts are still considerable. Silver has said 40% of the NBA’s $8 billion or so in annual revenue comes from in-person fan purchases, be they ticket sales or merchandise or concession buys.
Having no fans — or only a limited number — following a year where the league lost over a billion dollars of previously expected revenue, according to reports is going to be a tough pill to swallow, but there isn’t a viable alternative at the moment.
You’ve likely heard for months that these are unprecedented times. That reality is no different for the NBA.
Expect to see something resembling this timeline ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season:
NBA draft — Nov. 18
Salary cap numbers released — Around Nov. 19
Free agency starts — Around Nov. 21
Training camps open — Dec. 1
First games — Dec. 22
Christmas slate — Dec. 25
72-game season, no all-star weekend for 2020-21 season.