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NBA offseason sprint moves into free-agent stage

The Houston Rockets’ James Harden, left, and Russell Westbrook walk together in the second half of an NBA playoff game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sept. 12 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP file photo)

NBA free agency is usually a weeklong frenzy. Deals get struck, then teams and players must wait a few days before they can sign those contracts. And from there, a few more months often pass before the player goes to work with his new club.

Not this year.

What promises to be a chaotic free-agent window opens in the NBA at 6 p.m. today, two days after the NBA draft, a mere 42 hours before signings can begin and about a week and a half before training camps around the league open. Asked what the player-movement landscape might look like in such a compressed time frame, Philadelphia 76ers President Daryl Morey — looking exhausted early Thursday as the draft wound down — offered a blunt prediction.

“Completely insane,” Morey said.

It’s hard to argue.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis celebrates during the second half in Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Oct. 5. Davis is the biggest name on the free agency board; he turned down his option for this season with the Lakers but isn't expected to go anyplace else. (AP file photo)

Anthony Davis of the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers is the biggest name on the free agency board; he turned down his option for this season with the Lakers but isn’t expected to go anyplace else.

More than 100 other NBA players are unrestricted free agents; another 75 or so can be restricted free agents. That’s a lot of players who could move, with the season coming up quickly — and only a few teams have plenty of available salary-cap space to sign players easily.

Plus, teams are still figuring out coronavirus protocols for training camp. Nobody has seen the NBA schedule for a regular season that starts Dec. 22.

Really, things have already started. Plenty of names are already on the move, and the trade market is always an option for the teams that can’t just go sign a player into nonexistent cap space.

The Lakers already have a new point guard in Dennis Schroder, acquired in a trade with Oklahoma City. The Thunder sent point guard Chris Paul in a trade to Phoenix, and with a brief stopover-on-paper-only in Oklahoma City, Ricky Rubio wound up leaving the Suns and ending up where his NBA career began in Minnesota. Jrue Holiday is heading from New Orleans to Milwaukee, where he’ll play with two-time reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Houston’s star backcourt of scoring champion James Harden and former MVP Russell Westbrook have been mentioned in trade talks, though it would surely take a massive haul for the Rockets to part with either or both of those players.

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