While we’re still waiting for official word on a CBA Memorandum of Understanding and the final Return to Play protocols, we now at least have an idea of when the free agency period will begin. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports (Twitter link) that the agreement to extend expiring contracts runs through Oct. 31st, which means that the league is targeting Nov. 1 as the beginning of the 2020-21 calendar, which would also serve as the opening day of free agency.
This also means that contract extensions will need to be put on hold as well. Those deals can’t officially be signed until the player enters the final year of his contract, which will now be in November. Of course, teams can still hold informal discussions between now and then and with a better picture of what the salary cap is going to be for the foreseeable future (no change for the next two years and a $1 million boost to $82.5 million in 2022-23 if the CBA extension is finalized and ratified), those negotiations might be a bit easier with one key variable off the table.
As for players who have an eye on heading overseas for next season where the leagues start up in September, there is some relief on the horizon. Mollie Walker of the New York Post notes that players that aren’t going to be participating in the playoffs will be allowed to sign deals in other leagues later this month. That would allow players to catch on with new teams with enough time to be at training camp instead of having to wait and join midway through the season. With that in mind, we may see a small uptick in player movement once the Return to Play rosters are set.