SALT LAKE CITY — The NBA announced on Friday the indefinite postponement of the draft lottery and draft combine.
Both events were set to be held in Chicago, with the draft lottery on May 19 and the combine running from May 21-24. The league did not give any estimate on when the events will be rescheduled. As the safety and health of all the athletes and involved personnel will take first priority, it could be a while before the NBA makes any final decisions.
“More information on each event will be shared at a later date as the NBA continues to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic and consult with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials,” the league said in a written statement.
The draft lottery and combine are the two biggest draft-related events that lead up to the NBA draft, currently scheduled for June 25.
The league’s board of governors voted to delay the lottery and combine in a conference call Friday afternoon, but stopped short of officially postponing the draft date, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The NBA's Board of Governors voted on those items in a conference call today, but held off on formally pushing back the June 25 Draft date -- although sources still expect that will eventually be done.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 1, 2020
Though the league has yet to postpone the draft itself, it has long been expected that the NBA will eventually have to delay the annual event.
With the indefinite suspension of the lottery and combine, along with the restricted access teams have to conduct predraft intel, and the fact that the NBA is still hoping to resume some version of the 2019-20 season or playoffs, pushing back the June 25 draft seems like an almost foregone conclusion.
On April 6, the league notified teams they are prohibited from conducting in-person workouts or interviews with draft prospects, and are not allowed to request video workouts of players until further notice.
NBA teams are allowed to conduct virtual interviews with prospects for up to four hours per player and can study film from college games and practices that occurred before the NBA suspended its season on March 11.
Normally teams head into the draft with an incredible amount of predraft information, including having conducted multiple in-person workouts for dozens of players as well as interviews. Teams of course have an abundance of predraft scouting and material collected throughout the season but the in-person workouts and interviews are an important part of that process.
Additionally, team executives go into the draft with the knowledge of where their team stands. Based on what transpires at the end of a season or during the playoffs, team executives look toward the draft to address certain needs as well as make deals to move up or down in the draft.
For rebuilding teams, the draft lottery and combine mark the biggest part of the NBA calendar. But with the season, lottery, combine and normal draft protocol in a holding pattern, the NBA’s calendar is almost certain to shift dramatically.