After a successful 81-day marathon to finish off the 2019-20 NBA season inside the Orlando bubble with zero COVID-19 cases, the league is now loosening its reigns on in-person evaluations between teams and draft-eligible players. Before, everything was going to be virtual, with players providing workout videos, virtual interviews and drills, and medical exams performed in the nearest NBA market to them.
Now, beginning from October 16 through November 16, teams will be allowed to perform up to ten in-person interviews (no more than two per player) of up to 4 1⁄2 hours per visit for the purpose of player evaluations, interviews, and medical examinations. Here’s the lowdown:
- Teams can send three team personnel plus a physician to the city where the player resides.
- Players can be accompanied by up to three individuals, including family, trainers, and agents.
- All individuals involved on both sides must undergo COVID-19 testing 72 hours prior to the visit (and obviously must come back negative), daily temperature checks, wear masks, and maintain social distancing at all times.
- Multiple teams can attend a player’s pro-day style workout at his discretion, which would count towards each team’s 10-visit limit.
This is something teams have been pushing the NBA about for a while now, with the large gap between the time the college basketball was halted (March 12) and the November NBA Draft causing a growing concern about not having enough information to make the correct choice. That being said, there is still some concern about this new approach, mostly related to the leverage agents carry.
Many agents are advising first-round-caliber talent against performing any basketball activities for teams, perhaps to protect their status, and agents are also known to withhold medical information to try and steer their clients to certain teams. There’s also concern about the competitive advantage larger or more attractive franchises can carry in this limited-visit format since players and their agents are permitted to decide which teams are allowed to visit with them.
The 2020 NBA Draft will take place on November 18. The start of the 2021 NBA season is yet to be determined. Christmas is the earliest possible date that has been mentioned (although highly unlikely at this point), and executive director of the National Basketball Players Association Michelle Roberts recently mentioned to players that it may be as late as February before the new season begins.