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Detroit Pistons now on the clock with NBA Draft coming Thursday

Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham shoots against Arkansas in the second half of game in Stillwater, Okla., on Jan. 30. Cade Cunningham has announced he will enter the NBA draft after a dynamic freshman season that saw him named a first-team AP All-American. (AP file photo)

By TIM REYNOLDS

AP Basketball Writer

Detroit, you are on the clock.

The NBA offseason — if you can call it that — is here. The Milwaukee Bucks officially flipped the league calendar to summer on Tuesday night, capturing their first title in 50 years and turning out the lights on a season that navigated its way through a pandemic to crown a new champion.

There isn’t much of a break, of course.

The NBA draft, with the Pistons holding the No. 1 pick and presumably the chance to choose Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, is fast-approaching on Thursday. Free agency starts in less than two weeks, on Aug. 2. Most new contracts can be signed starting Aug. 6, and summer league opens two days after that.

“We made it. We crowned a champion,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during the trophy ceremony in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. “I have to say playing through a pandemic required enormous resilience from all 30 teams. Thank you to every team and every player in the league for a tremendous season.”

And now, it’s already next season.

The good news is there’s a sense of normalcy, even amid a pandemic, and the NBA plans to continue along that path. Training camps will begin in late September, as is the new normal. Preseason games are back in early October, and the league’s 76th season — even though it’ll be celebrating its 75th anniversary all year long — starts Oct. 19.

That’s not even three months away.

The pandemic was the storyline of the entire season — obviously, since it has been the storyline across the entire planet — and no one in the NBA expects that next season will be able to start without the continued threat of COVID-19. Protocols will remain in place; how many and how strict will depend on the virus and what’s happening in the world in a few months.

In the draft, Detroit picks first, followed by Houston, Cleveland and Toronto. Orlando has two picks in the top eight and Oklahoma City has three picks in the first 18 — the start of the massive haul of draft capital that the Thunder have acquired in recent years.