The remainder of the NBA season was suspended more than a month ago because of the spread of COVID-19. Since then, there hasn’t been any sense of when — or if — the regular season and playoffs will resume, as the impact of coronavirus continues to be felt around the country.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver reiterated that the league continues to work on contingency plans after its Board of Governors meeting, which was held via video conference on Friday.
One of the main topics in the meeting was the remainder of the season and how it could continue in the midst of the pandemic. Dr. David Ho, a specialist in infectious diseases, made a presentation to the governors about the possibility of continuing the season.
“Based on the reports we got from various outside public health officials and Dr. Ho, we are not in a position to make any decisions — and it’s unclear when we will be,” Silver said on a media conference call. “(Dr. Ho) reaffirmed that there’s an enormous amount about this virus yet to be learned.”
As President Donald Trump calls for state governors to ease restrictions on various stay-at-home decrees, the uncertainty about how much ignoring those orders will impact society, potentially causing an additional spike in COVID-19 cases.
Many medical experts are calling for additional testing to grasp the infection rates around the country and to increase antibody testing to determine whether large groups of Americans are immune. That plays into any potential restart to the season.
“We’re looking for the number of new infections to come down and the availability of testing on a large scale and the path we’re on for a potential vaccine and antivirals,” Silver said. “We’re paying close attention to what the CDC is telling us on a federal level and state rules. There’s a lot of data that has to be melded together; that’s part of the uncertainty.
“I don’t mean to send any signals about the likelihood of restarting the season. There’s not enough information to make a decision.”
As for specifics, Silver wouldn’t commit to any timeline on when the season could resume, nor a potential cut-off date after which they couldn’t complete the season. He said the league is focusing on finishing the season and the playoffs, but depending on how things progress with coronavirus, there’s still uncertainty.
“(Having the playoffs) absolutely still is an option. Everything is on the table,” Silver said. “If we continue play, we’re looking at going later than June.”
Salary cuts coming
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association announced an agreement on reducing player payments in case the season is completely cancelled due to COVID-19.
The season was suspended on March 11 and in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there is no definite plan of resuming the season. Silver has said that the league will review plans, but nothing would be announced before May 1.
In the joint plan between the league and players association, players’ paychecks will be reduced by 25% beginning with the May 15 payday. That will spread salary shortfall over a longer period, such that it doesn’t all end abruptly.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, player salaries can be reduced in case of an unlikely “Force Majeure” situation, such as an epidemic or pandemic. Per the CBA, players could lose 1.08% of their annual salary for each game that is canceled.