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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

Dec 21, 2020 - Podcasts

Milwaukee Bucks owner: NBA teams will lose money this season

The NBA tips off tomorrow night, making it the first major U.S. sports league to play a second season amidst the pandemic. No bubble this time, but also not many in-person fans.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry on the business of basketball, how much he expects to lose this season and that massive new deal for two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Ro Khanna accuses Biden of quitting Middle East

Rep. Ro Khanna. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images

An outspoken progressive Democrat is wary of President Biden’s approach to the Middle East, arguing it’s like “conceding defeat of the aspiration” to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why it matters: A number of members of Biden’s own party dislike his Middle East strategy, as his administration signals the region is no longer the priority it was for President Obama and his predecessors.

Democrats eye reconciliation for immigration

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Comprehensive immigration reform is a pipe dream, but some Senate Democrats are hoping to tie key immigration provisions to the next big reconciliation push.

Why it matters: Immigration is one of the most controversial and partisan issues in U.S. politics, which is why the budget reconciliation process — which allows for bills to pass the Senate with a simple majority rather than the usual 60 votes — is so attractive.