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2020 NBA Free Agency to begin on Nov. 20 with a $109 million salary cap

The 2020-21 NBA season will begin on Dec. 22 with team schedules to be released in the near future.

Washington Wizards v Boston Celtics
The 2020 NBA Draft is less than a week away and so is free agency!
Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

On Monday, the NBA and NBPA agreed on a timetable for the 2020-21 NBA season and that free agency negotiations can start on Nov. 20. The team owners still have to vote to approve the deal, but at this point, it’s effectively a done deal.

Here are some of the key things on free agency and the salary cap.

  • Negotiations can start on Friday, Nov. 20 at 6 p.m. ET and contracts can be signed as early as 12:01 p.m. ET on Sunday Nov. 22 — For the most coveted unrestricted free agents like Washington Wizards forward Davis Bertans, they will have considerable leverage on where to go, but they’ll have less time than normal to do so with training camps likely beginning in early December.
  • The salary cap is at $109.14 million and the luxury tax threshold is at $132.627 million — The Wizards have about $103 million in committed salaries for next season. They won’t be able to sign a player beyond the mid-level exception besides re-signing Bertans with his Bird rights, so don’t expect them to be “buyers.” The salary cap for next season, at least nominally, is exactly the same as last season.
  • In future seasons, the salary cap will increase at least three percent and no more than ten percent from these levels starting with the 2021-22 NBA season — These numbers help ensure that players don’t see a sudden major drop in their earnings, especially if gate receipts remain depressed for longer than just next season. With Pfizer releasing some very positive news on their coronavirus vaccine trials this week, we may see NBA arenas closer to normal in 2021-22 than we initially feared.
  • Player escrow could be increased from 10 up to 20 percent this season. This could go on for up to two seasons — The salary cap is at an arbitrary figure due to revenue losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Players as part of the CBA agree to withhold 10 percent of their pay in escrow as a backstop in the event that their total pay is more than 50 percent of basketball related income. Since ticket revenue losses from last season and this season could make player salaries well above 50 percent of BRI in the short term, this smoothing makes sense to me.

For now, the next big date on the NBA season calendar is on Wednesday, Nov. 18 for the 2020 NBA Draft. Regular season games will begin on Tuesday, Dec. 22. The Wizards’ regular season schedule will be released at a later date.