TAYLOR COUNTY—As fans anxiously await the possible return of professional basketball, NBA commissioner Adam Silver prepared players for a potentially bleak outcome, suggesting recently that there is no guarantee when fans could return to NBA venues next season.
“This could turn out to be the single greatest challenge of all our lives,” Silver told the players in a call which included executive director Michael Roberts, NBPA President and Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul, and several other players who asked questions to the commissioner in a session which lasted about an hour.
Silver said that approximately 40% of the league’s revenue comes from game nights in NBA arenas.
Silver was asked some powerful questions about possible return-to-play scenarios, safety issues, the effect on future seasons, and the financial status of basketball-related income and future salary caps. He said that no decision on returning to play this season needed to be made this month, nor at the beginning of next month as well.
The commissioner proposed that the idea of returning to play this season at one or two potential sites, including Orlando and Las Vegas, could make the most sense.
“There’s no point in adding risk for flying all of you from city to city if there’s not going to be fans,” explained Silver. “We think it would be safer to be in a single location, or two locations, to start.”
He also insisted that there would need to be some sort of restrictions in place at the single or dual location setup, and he added that “the goal isn’t to have you go to a market for two months to sit in hotel room.”
Silver expressed a yearning that the league complete its season with the traditional playoff structure that would include a seven-game series in each round, but he also left open the possibility of some type of “play-in” tournaments to aid more teams in the resumption of a shorter season. Silver also told players that the start of next season could be pushed back until December, regardless of whether this season could be successfully completed.
He then reminded players that those issues would eventually need to be collectively bargained with the NBPA. Another topic would include how future basketball income and salary caps would be affected by a major reduction in revenue.
“The CBA was not built for extended pandemics,” he told the players.
As for resuming play this season, Silver offered that talk around the length of a training camp should center around a minimum of three weeks. He said that the league’s desire would be that a player who tests positive for the coronavirus wouldn’t require shutting down their (or their team’s) season, but would only result in the removal of the player and prompt testing of anyone who had come into direct contact with him.
Silver expressed his confidence that there would be enough testing available in the country at that time for the league to feel confident about administrating that many tests.
It has also been reported that the NBA estimates it would need in the ballpark of 15,000 tests to resume and then complete its season successfully.
“Until there’s a vaccine, or some cocktail preventing people from dying from the virus, we are going to be dealing with this collectively,” Silver told the players. “The ultimate issue is how much risk we’re all comfortable taking.”