Phoenix Suns: The effect of the new NBA timeline

The NBA calendar of events is set up to have a very busy few months. How might this affect the Phoenix Suns?

With all the focus (rightfully) on the Phoenix Suns’ upcoming Ali-like return to the ring, another detail of the NBA’s future has fallen under the radar: the timeline.

No, not that timeline. Sorry, to bring up a trigger word. Didn’t mean to cause any heartache. I meant the schedule.

No, not the Suns’ probable game schedule, I mean the dates all this stuff happens. Whatever you call that.

Basketball will kick back up at the happiest place on Earth July 31 and Game-7 of the Finals won’t transpire any later than October 12, but the NBA isn’t planning on lollygagging around before jumping right into the new season.

How the jam-packed NBA calendar might affect the Phoenix Suns.

The NBA lottery will be held on August 25th, and regardless of the final rankings, the current lottery positions will hold. That means, barring a miraculous run to the playoffs, the Phoenix Suns will maintain the 10th best odds in the lottery.

This also means there can be no tanking in these final eight regular-season games. Small victories.

If we assume playoffs will begin the second or third week in August, that only leaves a week or so for non-playoff teams to prepare for the lottery.

Okay, I don’t know what a team actually has to do to prepare for watching the results of ping-pong balls bouncing around a plastic container, but you never know how long it takes to craft a quality good-luck charm.

The real quick turnaround comes after the playoffs end. As of now, the NBA Draft is scheduled for October 15. That means if we see several long series and seven games in the Finals, those teams would only have a three-day turnaround time before being on the clock.

Related Story: The Suns should target Killian Hayes in the draft

Sure, teams should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, but priorities will have to be shifted. In fact, James Jones and the executive team should be actively planning for the draft now. No need to wait until after the official end of their season.

After that scramble, there will have to be an even greater sense of urgency as free agency is scheduled to open October 18. This is where the Phoenix Suns need to make a big splash, as they will likely have around $20 million with which to bring someone with some star power.

The free agency class is relatively weak, and the salary cap may be much lower than expected due to revenue lost by the pandemic, but James Jones needs to be planning for that well in advance as well. Gotta get that Bleacher Report grade up.

Related Story: The Suns should go after Demarcus Cousins in free agency

And if all that remains in place, the 2020-2021 season is set to debut December 1 (with training camp starting November 10), which would mean teams that enjoy a length playoff run will have had a longer unintended hiatus this season than an upcoming, scheduled, offseason.

Presumably, this is an effort to get the normal calendar of events back on track for the 2021-2022 season, as a December 1 start date would only be about five or six weeks later than normal.

The issue here, though, is that there is another big event in the summer of 2021, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Weird, I know.

The Olympic games are scheduled to begin July 23, which will likely butt-up next to the end of the 2021 NBA Finals. This could mean that players would have donned the USA jerseys who made the playoffs may opt-out of going for gold.

That means, if the Phoenix Suns make the playoffs, Devin Booker, Ricky Rubio, and Aron Baynes (if he is still on the team) will have a legitimate reason to skip out on the trip to Japan.

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In fact, many NBA stars might have a reason to bow out for countries all over the world, as between this season’s late finish, a player whose team made a deep playoff run in 2020 and 2021 would not get a lengthy break for an entire calendar year. It would make sense they might want to sit out the Olympics.

It is because of this lack of a break, it might not stay this way. While these dates have been soft-announced, the NBA Players Association plans to continue to negotiate them, with the idea to potentially delay the start of the 2020-2021 season until later in December.

So let’s recap the dates as they are now:

June 30: Teams can have training camp in their home cities
July 7: Arrive in Orlando
July 31: Start eight-game regular season
August 25: Draft Lottery
October 12: Last day possible for playoffs to end
October 15: NBA Draft
October 18: Free agency opens
November 10: Training camp for 2020-2021 season
December 1: Start of 2020-2021 season
July 23, 2021: Start of 2020 Olympics

Granted, I’m not the one who has to actually play, but I actually like this calendar of events. The league has to start inching back towards the normal dates and this makes it happen sooner than later. It isn’t realistic to adjust the start of every season by one week for the next six years until we are back to normal.

And that’s what everyone and their mom is ready for. Getting back to normal.

Next: How the Suns can take advantage of the NBA return's format
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