Mark Medina: In a conference call, Raptors GM Bobby Web…

More on 2020-21 Season Plans

Where is training camp, and where are we playing this season? “I don’t know what to tell [my client]” said an agent for one Raptors player. “He’s pretty particular about his living arrangements and likes to have all that stuff figured out well in advance but right now the team isn’t saying anything and so we just have to wait. I’m going to hire a realtor in Tampa tomorrow just in case.”
Based on multiple sources it seems like an arrangement where the Raptors play their games in Tampa at Amalie Arena (home of the Tampa Bay Lightning) and train in the community nearby – the University of South Florida has hosted NBA teams for training camps in the past, as an example – is the leading option if the Raptors can’t get the necessary exemptions from quarantine requirements to travel freely across the border. But even late last week Fort Lauderdale and Nashville were mentioned as options to agents asking about where their clients might be headed.
Several agents representing Raptors players contacted by Sportsnet said they’ve received little to no insight from the team about where their clients may be headed in the short- or long-term. “It’s a little surprising,” said one. “You would think they would say, ‘We really want to be in Toronto but just in case, familiarize yourself with Tampa – or wherever – just in case.”
Joe Vardon: NBA preseason games are expected to begin Dec. 11 at the earliest. It also looks like ‘team’ camps will start Dec. 5. The first few days are supposed to be individual workouts. And the league is expected to release at least a portion of its game schedule in two weeks.
The league knows when it will hold the draft (Wednesday), start free agency (Nov. 20), open camps (Dec. 1) and begin the regular season (Dec. 22). The salary cap and luxury-tax lines for the season have been set. Outside of that, little is known at this point about how things will work this season, which has led to frustration around the league. "I'd love to be able to tell you something, but I don't know anything," one Western Conference executive told ESPN. "I find out everything from the media."
Dr. Howard Njoo said the Raptors presented a plan with good health protocols and have learned from the NBA's "bubble" experiment, when the league finished the 2019-20 season at an isolated campus near Orlando, Fla. But Njoo said the NBA will not be using the hub city concept for the upcoming season, and that it would be "tough on everyone involved" to observe the same health measures over a months-long NBA season during which teams are not isolated together.
Marc Stein: Talks are ongoing, sources say, to grant players on two-way contracts more than 45 days in the NBA to make them far more available to their NBA teams With such a short offseason (for some teams) and more of a coronavirus threat, teams naturally want the added roster flexibility
It’s official: The NBA is coming back Dec. 22. The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved Tuesday the financial terms and other parameters that were negotiated between the league and its players. Those talks were completed late Monday night, when the league and National Basketball Players Association announced they are in agreement on a revised collective bargaining agreement for this coming season — setting the stage for a frenzied few weeks before games resume.
Owners and players worked out a deal approved Monday night on when to start the season, its length, and other details. Teams are expected to be limited to 25 to 50 percent of suite capacity (driven by local market health safety rules), and there could be some fans sitting courtside (but further from the hardwood than normal), and some lower bowl seating, too, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

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Brandon Rahbar: Thunder will have fans in The Peake this season. No word yet on if they’ll have a coach in The Peake this season.
In case playing games at home isn’t possible to start the season, the Raptors have looked into several potential contingency locations – including Newark, Nashville and Tampa Bay, among others. However, they don’t have a locked and loaded Plan B. They believe it’s too early to give up on their very clear Plan A – hosting teams north of the border.
Tim Bontemps: The salary cap ($109.1 million) and luxury tax ($132.7 million) will remain the same next season. In future seasons, the cap and tax will increase by a minimum of 3 percent — and a maximum of 10 percent, sources said.

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League officials are confident that the reduced number of games and adjustments to reduce travel will aid teams. Such adjustments, although not finalized, would include more instances of teams playing the same opponent twice in the same city, as well as instances when teams would play more games against teams in nearby markets. (For example, more teams visiting Los Angeles would play the Lakers and Clippers on the same trip.) One other instance that could reduce travel is limiting one-game road trips.
Multiple officials also said they expected the two teams that just played in the Finals to potentially rest their stars and others early on while treating the first month of games as a sort of extended training camp and preseason. The Lakers and Miami Heat would be the only teams to experience a season turnaround of just 71 days, whereas the traditional offseason since the 1983-84 season lasts 141 days for Finals franchises.
Health officials around the NBA have expressed concern for how to prepare players for a potential 72-game regular season with a training camp that starts on Dec. 1, less than a month away -- especially for the teams that haven't played games since March and the two conference champions. "It's going to be especially challenging to not only get ready to play Dec. 22 or whatever but to maintain that for a period of four or five months," said one head athletic trainer of a Western Conference team, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity. "This is going to be another period of unchartered territory. As unchartered as the [Orlando] bubble was [this summer], this is the bubble times three or four or five [because we're] trying to extend it to that period of time with a minimal ramp-up."
"I'd be more worried about travel, because we saw in the bubble, not having travel really helped guys recover," said one official intimately involved with player health. "So I don't know if it's actually the amount of games (72), but it's just the fact that you're getting to 2 a.m. in the morning and you're traveling now -- that becomes a bigger issue."
In terms of conditioning, several health officials said they were hopeful that teams would be able to return to game-shape in a three-week ramp-up, particularly if they followed the same blueprints as when they had a similar timeline before the Orlando bubble. But they also pointed out that they would have to build up a stronger base of conditioning and strength to last for the 72-game slate, especially and in order to stave off soft-tissue injuries that de-conditioned players tend to suffer, such as hamstring strains.
The Toronto Raptors recently visited Nashville and are considering calling the city home next season because of Canadian travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, a source familiar with the situation told The Tennessean. The source requested anonymity because there has been no public announcement.
A decision about where the Raptors will play could come within the next week or two, though the source said the preferred priority is keeping the team in Toronto. The Raptors began discussions with Bridgestone about three weeks ago. The arena is well equipped for basketball and hosts the SEC basketball tournament.
NBA Central: Looks like LeBron isn’t a fan of the 71 day offseason pic.twitter.com/B0uwGqQBXE

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Adrian Wojnarowski: Among NBPA player reps on tonight’s call, there was some curiosity about starting free agency prior to Nov. 18 Draft, sources tell ESPN. For a few reasons, it isn’t possible under these circumstances. However, it is an idea that's had some support among teams in ordinary times.
Adrian Wojnarowski: First, there won't be finalized deal between NBA/NBPA until just prior to draft. Teams would be managing FA and draft simultaneously. Also, switching order starts new salary cap year earlier, offering some teams edge in draft-related trades that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
The NBA will play a 72-game season, with training camps opening on Dec. 1, the regular season ending on May 16 and the Finals finishing no later than July 22, sources said. The NBA will play in markets, reduce their travel by 25 percent, and significantly reduce cross-country travel especially early in the season, sources said.
The N.B.A.’s goal is to complete the 2020-21 season before the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled from July 23 to Aug. 8 in 2021. That would allow the league to avoid direct competition with the Olympics and set up the 2021-22 season to return to the N.B.A.’s usual October-through-June pattern. The plan is strongly preferred by the league’s primary media partners, Disney and Turner, following a summer and fall of dismal N.B.A. ratings in a crowded sports landscape, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Besides, some league officials would say, eight teams haven’t played since March and more than half the league was done playing by Sept. 1. “Good to see the light right now,” Hawks guard Trae Young, one of the players who hasn’t played since March, tweeted.
Frank Madden: For some context, if cap goes up only 2% for 21/22 then it would put a Giannis supermax value at around $226m/5 years (same if he signs this offseason or next). Other teams could offer a projected $144/4 years if he hit FA in ‘21. A year ago the projections were $254m/$161m.
Tim Reynolds: There's no agreement on the money - yet - but the NBA's player representatives have decided to back the notion of a Dec. 22 start to the season, AP is told. Talks between the union and league will continue on matters like escrow/COVID testing/etc.
Shams Charania: Sources: The NBA aims to have arena suites open to fans at 25-to-50 percent capacity for 2020-21 season tipoff, based on local regulations. An amount of fans — under protocols such as masks, social distancing and coronavirus testing — is a goal to start season.
Shams Charania: The coronavirus pandemic has made life fluid, and a clinical vaccine will play a role in this too. NBA's goal is some amount of fans to start the season, depending on each market's restrictions. Courtside fans, for instance, would be about 10-to-12 feet away, sources said.
The initially proposed January start died because neither the players nor the board of governors were comfortable sacrificing the additional four weeks of revenue. The Warriors are good with this. Really good. They’ve already had eight months to read or work out, to binge on their favorite TV shows or connect with family and friends, so they’ve always liked the December start.
“I've taken advantage of the time, really, but I'm also ready to go,” coach Steve Kerr said over the weekend. “I can't wait to start practice. We all kind of feel that way. When I say, ‘we all,’ I mean ‘organizationally.’ I'm sure the Lakers and the Heat aren't really ready to start camp yet. But we are ... we’re ready to roll.”
Keith Smith: One item that hasn't been talked about much: What happens with the NBA G-League in 2020-21? Multiple teams have that same question. One team told me they were told "We'll get the NBA season figured out and then we'll get into the G-League. It's on a long list of to-do items."
Bobby Marks: Here is what an 18% escrow would look like for some of the top earners: Steph Curry ➡️$43M to $35.3M 🔽$7.4M LeBron James ➡️$39.2M to $32.2M 🔽$7.0M Kawhi Leonard ➡️$34.4M to $28.2M 🔽$6.2M Total player escrow projects from $720M to $800M
The National Basketball Players Association is planning to take a formal vote of the team player representatives late Thursday, and sources told ESPN everything is progressing toward an agreement on a pre-Christmas start to the season. The NBPA is holding team conference calls this week, including several on Wednesday, that detail discussions with the league on a salary escrow for players in the range of 18% for the next two years, sources told ESPN.
Sources say the team representatives are expected to approve the agreement The league and players are still negotiating that escrow figure, sources said.
The NBPA, led by executive director Michele Roberts, started formal conference calls with players from all 30 teams this week. Players have been holding calls with the NBPA beginning Monday and will go through Thursday morning. Players coming out of several meetings believe a Dec. 22 start is inevitable, sources said.
The NBA is opening lucrative new revenue streams to help teams offset steep losses from last season and limit financial hits should games next season be played in front of a limited number of fans or in empty arenas. Teams now will be able to sell the previously off-limit baseline apron areas near the baskets as new high-profile sponsorship inventory. The baseline apron hard signage will be allowed only on local regional sports network broadcasts; no decision has been made on extending the signage to national broadcasts.
Bill Self knows having an NBA team in Kansas City might not be the best thing for nearby college programs — at least from a ticket-sales perspective. And yet, the KU basketball coach seems fully on board with the idea of the Toronto Raptors potentially putting down temporary roots in Kansas City, if indeed they needed to relocate.
Last week, Self, entering his 18th year as KU's coach, was asked what he thought of that initiative. "I would say this place is obviously a hotbed for basketball," Self responded. "This place obviously loves their ball. And you go back historically to all the NCAA tournaments and the NCAA being here that was held in Municipal Auditorium and those sorts of things. I think that would be a big sell because we’ve shown that we love ball historically."
And Self also believes a successful run as a temporary home could put Kansas City on the shortlist to get an NBA team. "I saw firsthand, and we all did, what happened with the Hornets," Self said. "When Katrina hit New Orleans and they relocated to Oklahoma City, you saw how that market rallied around that team to make them basically an automatic to get a franchise if anything else was going to transpire. And then of course the Sonics moved there. I can see [KC] doing the same thing. I think people would rally around it."
Optimism still exists that an agreement can be reached on the pre-Christmas start, but it has been tempered in recent days, sources said. NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and union leadership have been talking directly with players about starting the season so quickly after a mid-October finish to the Finals in the Orlando, Florida, bubble, and so far have expressed a preference for a mid-January start to the season. The NBA believes there is somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion in revenue losses next season and beyond by failing to start the season in December, sources said.
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