It sure sounds like we’re actually going to see a playoffs, but the crazier thing will be what the NBA looks like next season, money-wise. We’re probably looking at a CBA where everyone agrees to pro-rate salaries next season, with player taking sizable pay cuts.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver prepared players for a potentially grim landscape amid the coronavirus pandemic, suggesting there are no guarantees when fans could fully return to NBA arenas next season.
Silver said that 40% of the league’s revenue comes from money built around game nights in arenas.
“This could turn out to be the single greatest challenge of all our lives,” Silver told the players.
ESPN acquired an audio replay of the National Basketball Players Association call, which included executive director Michele Roberts, NBPA president Chris Paul and several players asking questions of the commissioner in an hour-long session.
The tone was respectful, but Silver was asked some hard questions about safety issues, return-to-play ideas, how future seasons would be impacted and the financial realities of future salary caps and basketball-related income. Silver said no decision on returning to play this season needs to be made in May, nor immediately into the start of June.
Silver said returning to play this season at one or two potential sites — including Orlando and Las Vegas — made the most sense, and that no decision on the league season needed to be made before June.
“There’s no point in adding risk for flying all of you city to city if there’s not going to be fans,” Silver said. “We think it would be safer to be in a single location, or two locations, to start.”
Silver allowed that there would need to be some restrictions in place at a single or two-site scenario, but he told players: “The goal isn’t to have you go to a market for two months to sit in hotel room.”
Silver expressed a desire that the NBA complete its season with a traditional playoff structure that includes seven-game series in each round of the playoffs, but he left open the possibility of play-in tournaments to accommodate more teams in a shortened season resumption. Silver also told players that the start of next season could be pushed until December, regardless of whether this season was completed or not.
Through it all, Silver reminded players that these were issues that needed to be collectively bargained with the NBPA. Among those issues, he said, included how future basketball-related income and salary caps would be impacted with massive decreases in revenue.
He flatly told players about the current Collective Bargaining Agreement: “The CBA was not built for extended pandemics.”