SALT LAKE CITY — Wondering when you’re going to have sports back in your life? When will the Utah Jazz play again? Me too. But as far as the NBA is concerned, it’s probably going to be quite a while.
When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decided to suspend the season following Rudy Gobert’s positive COVID-19 test, word was passed down that the league would reevaluate after 30 days, a time frame that even in the moment seemed wildly optimistic.
On Sunday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for the cancellation or postponement of any gathering of 50 people or more for at least the next eight weeks, and later that evening ESPN reported that league owners are bracing for what could be a three-month suspension of play, meaning that the NBA would resume activities sometime in June.
That doesn’t mean the NBA is planning to pick up right where it left off. All scenarios are on the table, including doing away with the remainder of the regular season, playing a shortened or heavily modified version of the playoffs, or even canceling everything altogether.
As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, the NBA, along with everyone else, will face challenges the likes of which it has never seen, starting with uncertainty.
There is no way of knowing when it will be safe to resume play and what that will look like, whether it be without fans, in neutral locations, at practice facilities, or if all will be back to normal — all possibilities that league owners are discussing and preparing for.“On Sunday evening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for the cancellation or postponement of any gathering of 50 people or more for at least the next eight weeks, and later that evening ESPN reported that league owners are bracing for what could be a three-month suspension of play, meaning that the NBA would resume activities sometime in June.”
With so many pieces up in the air and so many unknowns, it is very possible that the NBA, which has never had a season without a champion, is in jeopardy of losing the rest of the 2019-20 season and the playoffs.
Consider the following: If play were to resume after a large hiatus, there would be a domino effect on other key basketball-related events that would need to be reorganized or reconsidered.
The normal, pre-coronavirus NBA schedule calls for the playoffs wrapping up no later than June 21, which leads into the NBA draft, currently scheduled for June 25. That’s not even taking into account the draft combine, which is supposed to be held in late May, and with NCAA play canceled, there are many wrinkles that have yet to be ironed out considering the next class of players who will be coming into the NBA.
Then comes NBA free agency, which opens the first week of July. If that period is moved, many NBA contracts will have to be reevaluated because there is language that is date specific for players, especially those who are to become free agents this summer.
Date-specific language in contracts is not just limited to NBA players, but also coaches, team staff, medical and training personnel and front office executives, all of whom are not part of a union like the players are, so contract renegotiating is not as easy.