In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are now about five weeks removed from the last NBA games taking place. Yesterday, the league held a Board of Governors call (as a reminder, the NBA refers to its owners as ‘governors’ now) to fill everyone in on the current status of the league and what is currently under consideration in regard to an eventual return to play.
The overarching theme of the call seemed to be that, like the rest of us, the league is just in a holding pattern and unable to make any definitive decisions at this time.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver says Board of Governors are in agreement that safety is paramount: “We are not in any position to make any decisions and it’s unclear when we will be.”— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 17, 2020
As with the public at-large, the presence of widely available and rapid testing appears to be the biggest hurdle to getting back to some degree of normalcy. It’s easy to say you isolate the players and have them play at a centralized location, but there are still officials, coaching and medical staffs, etc., to all consider. If even one person is asymptomatic but carrying the virus, it would once again bring the entire operation to a halt. That’s why a stringent testing protocol is so vital.
Adam Silver: “As I sit here today, there’s too much unknown to set a timeline and even too much unknown to say, ‘Here are the variables.’” He does know that number of new infections must decrease and testing must be available on a large scale for NBA to consider return to play.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 17, 2020
The league is even on a wait-and-see basis in terms of the absence of a final deadline on the 2019-20 season. Obviously, the NBA would like to avoid having a lost season like the 1994 MLB season where no champion was crowned, so they’re going to do everything possible to keep hope alive that the playoffs can eventually take place, even on a truncated basis.
Adam Silver says NBA is not ready to set a date when a decision has to be made on resuming the season. "I would just say everything is on the table," including moving back the start of next season.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 17, 2020
As I briefly mentioned above, one idea that gets thrown around a lot is the idea of playing in a ‘bubble-like’ environment at a centralized location. The NBA does not seem to be seriously considering such scenarios, as again, testing would be paramount even under those circumstances.
Adam Silver says the NBA "has only listened" to "bubble" proposals and is "not seriously engaged yet" on putting the whole league in Vegas or Orlando, etc., for closed-door games— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) April 17, 2020
We learned that contraction of the virus has been more widespread within the league than publicly reported. By my recollection, those identified have been Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Christian Wood, Kevin Durant, Marcus Smart, two unidentified players from the Lakers and three other Nets players aside from Durant. The Sixers had three organizational members test positive; the team never confirmed whether or not players were amongst that group of three individuals. There are HIPAA laws and everything else, so it’s certainly none of our business who tests positive, as long as any individuals who may have come in contact with a positive case are notified. We can only hope everyone remains well.
Adam Silver says more than the reported seven players have tested positive for coronavirus, but "for privacy reasons we are not reporting any other tests."— Henry Abbott (@TrueHoop) April 17, 2020
Finally, in the wake of news that player salaries will be reduced by 25 percent starting on May 15, Silver stated that the league’s revenue “in essence has dropped to zero.”
There’s still no end to the league’s suspension of play in sight, so people will have to get by with YouTube clips, choppy connections of a HORSE competition, last night’s WNBA draft, and The Last Dance, premiering tomorrow night. On yesterday’s call, Michael Jordan made sure not to miss a marketing opportunity. I guess it’s good to know that even while global circumstances are shifting by the day, some things never change.