OKC Thunder: Cuban’s optimism tempered by further delays to CBA return

OKC Thunder news: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks optimistic for May return. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder news: Owner Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks optimistic for May return. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

OKC Thunder fans may be in for a longer wait than the original projection of mid to late June despite Mark Cuban’s optimism for an earlier return of May.

On March 11th the OKC Thunder and Utah Jazz game postponement earmarked what shortly after led to the announcement of the NBA season suspension.

As players and fans alike adapt to the new norm most of North America is in lockdown. Each day brings new information but one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for everyone to practice safe distancing with the priority to stay at home as much as possible.

One constant is the thirst for live games with each passing day feeling more like a week. Adam Silver initially suggested the league was targeting a mid to late June return. That, of course, feels like an eternity away but it gave us a date to look forward to. Notably, efforts to flatten the curve of the virus will dictate the precise return date.

Fans got some hope for optimism earlier this week when Mark Cuban suggested in an interview with WFAA the league could be back sooner than initial predictions.

"“If I had to guess based off the people I’ve talked to at the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and other places — I would say that the over-under would be June 1st, and I’m taking the under. Hopefully, by the middle of May, we’re starting to get back to normal and the NBA is playing games.”"

Dive into the timeline Cuban offers and there is a direct correlation to how long the Asian Basketball leagues were out. The Chinese Basketball league was set to return this coming weekend. China was hit by the coronavirus in January so this would suggest an eight to 10-week timeline from suspension to return. Hence Cuban betting on a mid to late May projected return made sense.

But this week, the Asian Leagues all altered their return dates which temper the optimism of Cuban.

ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst was asked for his opinion following Cuban’s comments and didn’t share the Mavericks owner’s enthusiasm.

Windhorst cited “a really bad week in Asia” due to the leagues either canceling their seasons or postponing to a later restart date.

Specifically, the Japanese League started and failed, the Korean League was scheduled for the upcoming weekend and have as Windhorst put it “shelved their entire season.

However, the biggest news is from the Chinese League who the NBA was seemingly taking their cues from. The CBA called back all their foreign players with the intent of resuming games by mid-April. This week those plans were altered for a May return.

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China was at the forefront of the coronavirus epidemic which halted games at the end of January. Logically, the three-month time-table (March 11th suspension starts to mid-June restart) the NBA outlined was based on this information.

If another full month is required then the NBA would be looking at a mid to late July restart. At that point, it will be interesting if the season isn’t canceled or the NBA elect to jump right into playoffs with potentially shortened series.

Years ago the first round was a shorter best of five-game series. Perhaps just for this season the first and second round could follow that format and have the Conference Finals and Finals be the typical best of seven games series.

While there was a brief moment of jubilation based on Cuban’s comments, ultimately the return date will be tied to how long it takes to corral the spread of COVID-19.  For now, fans can watch games on NBA League Pass for free or tune into Fox for games the network is re-playing.

The next game being Fox is featuring is the OKC Thunder versus the Brooklyn Nets this Saturday.

dark. Next. NBA 2020 Mock Draft 1.0 – Options abound for Thunder

For more information on the coronavirus please note the following sites:

Oklahoma State Department Help Center: 877-215-8336
Oklahoma State – dedicated coronavirus site: click this link
The World Health Organizationclick this link 
Centers for Disease Control and Preventionclick this link