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Key dates announced for NBA free agency, season start

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Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell reacts after Mike Conley made a 3-point basket against the Denver Nuggets during the third quarter in Game 4 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Associated Press

As the NBA continues to gear up for the 2020-2021 season on the fly, the league on Tuesday announced more details about how the campaign will function.

Here are the highlights:

  • Preseason games will be played Dec. 11-19.
  • As has been rumored, the 72-game schedule will be released in two parts. The first half will be released at the start of training camp on Dec. 1, and the second half will be released close to the halfway point of the season. The first half of the season will be played Dec. 22, 2020-March 4, 2021.
  • The All-Star break will be from March 5-10, 2021.
  • The regular season will conclude on May 16.
  • The play-in tournament, which was experimented with for the first time in the Orlando bubble over the summer, will be from May 18-21. The tournament will feature the seven to 10 seeds in each conference vying for the last two playoff spots in their respective conference. Like in Orlando, the seventh and eighth-place teams will each have two opportunities to win one game to earn a playoff spot. The ninth and 10th-place teams will each have to win two consecutive games to earn a playoff spot. Order will be based on winning percentage entering the tournament.
  • The playoffs will be held from May 22-July 22.
  • Each team will play the others in their conference three times and will play all in the other conference twice (the latter is unchanged from tradition).

Nov. 9

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced Monday night the dates for the start of the 2020-21 season and the beginning of free agency prior to the campaign starting.

As was reported last week, the season will start Dec. 22, and each team will play 72 games. Teams and players can start negotiating deals at 6 p.m. EST on Nov. 20, and deals can start being signed at 12 p.m. EST on Nov. 22.

That will leave roughly 10 days in between when free agents can start signing new contracts and the start of training camp.

With the league’s draft being on Nov. 18, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday night that negotiations are ongoing to open a transaction window two or three days prior to that.

Also announced Monday is that the salary cap for this season will be $109.14 million, and the luxury tax level will be $132.627 million, the same as the 2019-20 season. Both will increase by a minimum of 3% and a maximum of 10% annually.

While the NBA and the players association have agreed to these parameters, they are still subject to a vote by the league’s board of governors.