Oct 22, 2020 - Sports

What to expect from the NBA offseason

a basketball with a face mask over it

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With the NBA Finals over a week in the rearview, it's time to look toward an offseason likely to be fraught with chaos and uncertainty.

Where it stands: Most key dates and decisions have yet to be determined or set in stone.

  • Draft: The one relative certainty is that the NBA Draft will be Nov. 18.
  • Salary cap: It's expected to remain flat ($109.1 million), which means just four teams will have cap space to sign someone beyond the mid-level exception (Pistons, Hawks, Knicks, Hornets).
  • Season start: The NBA is targeting Jan. 18, but because they want as many in-person fans as possible, it's a moving target.
  • Season end: This obviously hinges on when it begins, but two driving factors are avoiding competition with the NFL and finishing at least most of the playoffs before the Olympics. In order to make that work, a condensed (~60 games) or altered schedule could be on the table.

Free agency: It's a relatively weak class, headlined by Fred VanVleet and a bevy of role players like Danilo Gallinari, Montrezl Harrell and Goran Dragić.

  • Yes, but: In reality, the biggest name to watch is two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has to decide if he'll accept an extension to stay in Milwaukee or play out his contract and become a free agent next summer.
  • If he declines the extension, more than a few teams will begin reshuffling their rosters to best position themselves for the feeding frenzy next year.

Coaching carousel: The draft is less than a month away, and though the Pacers (Nate Bjorkgren) and Pelicans (Stan Van Gundy) filled coaching vacancies this week, two job openings still remain (Rockets, Thunder).

  • Rockets: Van Gundy's brother, Jeff, is a top candidate. He coached them from 2003 to 2007 and has spent the past decade calling games for ESPN.
  • Thunder: The laundry list of candidates includes Sydney Kings (NBL) coach Will Weaver, Sixers assistant Ime Udoka and Dayton coach Anthony Grant.

Trade talk: The weak free agent class should make for an active trade market. The transaction window hasn't opened yet, but here are names to look out for when it does.

  • Chris Paul is like a fantasy running back coming off a 30-point performance. If his turn-back-the-clock season can entice a buyer despite his bloated contract (two years, $85 million), the Thunder could cash in.
  • Jrue Holiday is a two-way star, but the Pelicans might be better off trading him and using the return haul to build around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
  • Victor Oladipo broke out in 2018, but a quad injury kept him on the shelf for most of the last two seasons. Could Indiana trade its franchise star yet again?
Go deeper