The OKC Thunder and NBA hope for a return but with an uptick in discussions on reducing players’ salary the heat is on. All major sports Commissioners will talk to President Trump at noon, Saturday.
On March 11th the NBA pulled the plug on the game between the OKC Thunder and Utah Jazz. That postponement was followed by an announcement the season was being put on hold. Since that date, the daily question is will the Association be able to return to the hardwood this season.
Daily discussion focuses on whether there would be a continuation of regular-season games, a reduced amount of games or jumping straight into the playoffs. But, all of these options are semantics. None of those factors matter if the league can’t salvage all or a portion of the season.
Everything is in constant flux as the initial 30-day postponement was followed by a mid to late June suspected return. Those dates were based on what is occurring with the Chinese Basketball Association as it serves as the test example to follow.
This week the CBA further stalled a return until May. Stephon Marbury who now coaches in the CBA stated he expects a return to the court. The issue, however, is for as much as the CBA can serve as the test market none of what they do matters if the pandemic doesn’t follow a similar pattern in North America.
The other factor that has some thinking the league is leaning more toward cancellation is the discussion on holding back player’s salaries. The force majeure caveat in the Collective Bargaining Agreement could be enforced due to the pandemic and would allow teams to garnish player’s paychecks.
Friday, Shams Charania tweeted the league is suggesting a 50 percent reduction and the NBPA countered with a 25 percent maximum reduction.
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As of Friday the United States, positive COVID-19 cases have outpaced every other country and some States still hadn’t instituted mandates to self distance until this week. That factor alone may change the timeframe for how long it takes to flatten the curve of the pandemic.
ESPN analyst Brian Windhorst has frequently cited the CBA and with every setback suffered he points to how that will affect the NBA. Some are reading into those setbacks as more of a likelihood the NBA will cancel the season.
“The talks between the players union and the league this week, I’ve talked to both sides of this issue, and it is clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down.
“Now they don’t have to do that yet, and the way they’re negotiating they’re leaving themselves an option either way, but they’re not having talks about how to restart the league, they’re having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now.”
While Jared Dudley isn’t necessarily the person who we should invest in as the authority his tweet response (Decision will not be made before June 1st.. Too much money at stake) to the Bleacher Report article is a valid point.
Owners and players will want to do whatever is necessary to salvage as much of a season and playoffs as possible. Ultimately it’s about money and canceling the season would carry a heavy burden of lost revenue and salary for each party.
Most notably, the problem is China was able to do a severe mandated lockdown whereas the United States is seemingly handling things differently in every State. That in itself will make stopping the spread of the virus extremely difficult.
As of this morning, ESPN Adam Schefter tweeted that President Donald Trump will be holding a conference call with all Major League Sports Commissioners. That new development could result in impending updates regarding returns or cancellations of seasons.
For the moment, everything is on hold and the league will continue to monitor the situation daily. While the hope is the NBA will be able to have some semblance of a finished season even if it means jumping straight into the playoffs the more pressing need is to end the spread of COVID-19 and for everyone to be safe.
To that end, enjoy your weekend – but do so while staying home and being safe.