The latest updates for the return of OKC Thunder games and leaguewide activity are for a mid to late June return while the G-League season will likely be canceled.
Each day brings more information the newest updates seem to lean toward a mid to late June return. If that scenario plays out it will mean active games for the OKC Thunder will be on hold for 12 to 14 weeks or at minimum a three month period.
Even in that scenario, the talk is for games to occur without fans in attendance. The following is an updated version of what we’ve learned since our last update on the coronavirus.
Confirmation the suspension will last at least until mid-June or late June was offered via Adrian Wojnarowski’s ESPN column.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation on Sunday night that no events or gatherings should include more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.
The above note removed the possibility for teams to play sooner given the number of people generated from two teams rosters, coaches, referees and staff required to make the game happen.
Although the OKC Thunder were set to play the Jazz last Wednesday, March 12th, it was the night Rudy Gobert‘s positive test results were discovered. That led to the postponement of the game and the suspension of the NBA. OKC Thunder players were tested for fever initially and COVID-19 the next day but no test results has been provided regarding as of yet.
The Raptors were the last team to play the Jazz and they have reported all the tests for the team and staff traveling to Utah came back negative. However, the Raptors like other teams were asked to self-quarantine.
Over the weekend a third case of the coronavirus was announced as Detroit Pistons power forward Christian Wood joined Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell as those infected with COVID-19. The Utah Jazz played the Pistons on Saturday, March 7th.
Also of note, the league is investigating arenas where games could take place outside of their regular venues.
The elephant in the room is how this pandemic will affect the economics of the league and salary cap. Already dealing with declining viewership and the issues attached to Daryl Morey’s tweet in the preseason which created issues in China and has cost the league millions of dollars. Again, as per Wojnarowski’s article, the league will look at different scenarios for resuming the season with its cost and effect.
The NBA likely will provide projections on three primary scenarios: the financial costs of shutting down the season, restarting with no fans in the arena, or playing playoff games with fans. Those losses will be reflected in next season’s salary cap and the players’ share of basketball-related income.
Although not definitively stated yet, the NBA G-League looks to be headed for full cancellation of the season. ESPN’s Wojnarowski and Malika Andrews updated on this eventuality and noted all players would be paid through to season end.
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As Wojnarowski and Andrews note the fact G-League teams travel via commercial airlines makes their situation more complex given how easily the coronavirus can spread in close proximity. Also of note is the G-League season was set to finish at month-end (March) with playoffs running through to mid-April.
That timeline doesn’t work in the current scenario of player isolation nor is it feasible to keep these players in town for an extended period with uncertainty over being able to complete their season and playoffs.
The questions which naturally fall out of this situation are whether the 45-day allotment for 2-way players will still be in effect or renegotiated given the unusual circumstances.
Finally, the Board of Governors will hold another conference call meeting today as per Adrian Wojnarowski
Thunderous Intentions will continue to update as more news is forthcoming be it about the OKC Thunder or word from the league on the status of the season. Stay healthy and safe everyone.
For more information on the coronavirus please note the following sites:
Oklahoma State Department Help Center: 877-215-8336. (Weekdays: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
Oklahoma State – dedicated coronavirus site: click this link
The World Health Organization – click this link
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – click this link