As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause financial hardships to people around the globe, NBA players could be the next group to face, well, not hardships, but a situation where they won’t exactly be thrilled. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last night that the NBA is considering recouping salaries for canceled games starting with paychecks due to April 15. Here are the main points from Woj via Twitter:
The NBA informed teams that league will provide "additional guidance" on the April 15 payment date, per memo today. Force Majeure language in CBA allows for a percentage of contracts to be withheld in extreme circumstances. It isn't a surprise NBA would wait on April 15 date. https://t.co/eTmCNL0UH5— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 21, 2020
The NBA and NBPA have had ongoing discussions on this issue -- and a number of others. The NBA can withhold 1/92.6 percent of a players' salary per cancelled game -- about one percent of an annual salary.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 21, 2020
I know you’re thinking, “cry me a river for the millionaires”, and they’re certainly towards the bottom of the list in terms of groups affected by this crisis. But we could be looking at players losing around 17 to 18 percent of their yearly salaries if regular season games aren’t rescheduled at a later date, which equates to a few million dollars for some of the more highly-paid players. That type of lost revenue would certainly be enough to cause a stir within the NBA players’ union.
It’s not as though the NBA doesn’t have the ability to continue paying players as normal. Earlier this week, the league reportedly planned to raise its credit line by $550 million, up to $1.2 billion from its previous mark of $650 million. Aside from maybe dragging its feet with having games proceed as scheduled when signs were building towards large crowds being a public health risk, the NBA has been doing the right things in the wake of this pandemic. Getting viewed as anti-labor would be a bad look for the league, and set a bad precedent for employers everywhere.
We’ll keep an eye on this issue, as the league has stated they will make their intentions known ahead of the April 15 date.