The 2020-21 NBA season just ended earlier this month when the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in six games in the NBA Finals, but it's never too early to look ahead to next season. On Tuesday, the league officially released its schedule of upcoming key dates, from free agency through the 2022 NBA Draft. 

After two straight seasons in which the NBA was forced to truncate and shift its schedule, the league will return to its traditional 82-game regular season schedule that runs from October through June for the '21-22 campaign. 

Also returning will be the somewhat controversial play-in tournament, which occurs in-between the end of the regular season and the start of postseason play. The play-in tournament was introduced for the 2020-21 season, and it gives the teams that finish ninth and 10th in the final regular season standings in each conference an opportunity to qualify for postseason play. 

The tournament did a solid job of keeping more teams in the hunt for the playoffs all the way up until the end of the regular season, which resulted in more interesting -- and meaningful games -- late in the season. So, its return isn't super surprising. However, not everyone is a fan of the tournament. Los Angeles Lakers star forward LeBron James is on record saying that whoever came up with the idea of the tournament should be fired. Clearly, the league didn't feel the same way since the tournament is returning for a second straight season. 

Here's a look at the NBA's schedule of upcoming events. 

Upcoming NBA schedule

  • Aug. 2: Teams can begin negotiating with free agents 
  • Aug. 6: Teams can begin signing free agents 
  • Aug. 8-17: MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas
  • Sept. 28: Training camp begins
  • Oct. 19: 2021-22 regular season begins
  • April 10: End of 2021-22 regular season 
  • April 12-15: Play-In Tournament 
  • April 16: Playoffs begin 
  • June 2: NBA Finals begin 
  • June 19: Game 7 of NBA Finals (if necessary) 
  • June 23: 2022 NBA Draft