2020 NBA Draft

NBA postpones Draft Lottery, Draft Combine

There can’t be a Draft Lottery if you don’t have final NBA regular-season standings to know who’s in it.

And the reasons you don’t have final regular-season standings by now are the same reasons you can’t have the annual Draft Combine in a few weeks.

Both events were postponed Friday, the league announced, as part of the continued shutdown due to the coronavirus crisis and government guidelines.

“More information on each event will be shared at a later date,” the NBA said in a statement. It will continue “to closely monitor the coronavirus pandemic and consult with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials.”

The Draft Lottery was scheduled for May 19 in Chicago, the same site as the Draft Combine set for May 19-24. In theory, the lottery could have been conducted remotely, without league executives, representatives of each teams and media members gathering in a hotel ballroom.

But because the 2019-20 season remains paused, with the possibility of resuming regular-season play still among the NBA’s many, constantly changing models for a return to action, the actual 14 lottery teams are as uncertain as most of the 16 playoff qualifiers.

Mathematically, only the Milwaukee Bucks, Torono Raptors, Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference had clinched postseason berths by the time the schedule was suspended March 11. A total of 259 games were left on the schedule, their status — as well as the playoffs — on hold.

“There are no target dates,” R.C. Buford, CEO of the San Antonio Spurs, had said earlier this week. “We just got the early-entry list in the last couple of days. That at least gives some kind of clarity on who the draft pool will be.

“But from there, we don’t have clarity on the Chicago pre-draft or medicals or all the things that go on with draft preparation.”

Postponing the combine, where draft-eligible players get evaluated by scouts and executives of the league’s 30 teams, owes more to the calendar, and the travel and social-distancing limitations facing much of the nation overall. Pushing back the date for the combine — if it gets held at all — delays the decision-making process for early-entrant players in particular. They currently face an NCAA deadline to retain eligibility of June 3; a similar deadline for international players is June 15.

If the combine is not held, medical information traditionally obtained by teams there would need to be procured in some other way.

The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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