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NBA to block free agency moves, trades (and possibly some player pay) during coronavirus suspension

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The NBA and NBPA making sure that no players are getting involuntarily moved around while the league is suspended due to the threat of coronavirus, but if this goes longer than expected, players (in theory) may lose out on some of their money.

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NBA Suspends Season After Player Tests Positive For Coronavirus Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

With the NBA season suspended for at least 30 days while the league figures out how to best react to the threat of COVID-19, or coronavirus, it is at least being ensured that players aren’t having to search for new homes, or find new ways to take care of themselves during the stoppage.

Because as much as we’d all like to believe that no general manager would be heartless enough to cut a player and leave them without easy access to a medical staff while this pandemic threatens the country, the league and players are also realistic enough to want measures in place to guarantee it.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, that’s exactly what happened between the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) yesterday:

It’s worth noting that yes, we are past the trade deadline, but no one knows for certain how long this stoppage is going to go, so it’s likely that the players wanted this in place to set the precedent now that they can’t be cut or dealt while this is going on.

For the Lakers, this essentially (for now) only means that they can’t sign another shooter like they were rumored to be thinking about, and not much else. But congrats to Clippers center Joakim Noah on his 40-day-long 10-day contract!

Charania reports that this moratorium will last from March 12 to April 10, then be re-evaluated, and that “players will be paid in full on next check on March 15.”

After that check, though, things could get interesting, because Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN revealed that the NBPA sent a memo to players reminding them of a little-known CBA clause that would allow the league to not pay a portion of their salaries if the season is cancelled:

In a correspondence to players addressing the uncertainty surrounding the NBA’s indefinite suspension of play, the National Basketball Players Association on Friday spelled out terms of a doomsday provision included in the collective bargaining agreement that could free owners from paying players a percentage of their salaries should the rest of the season be lost to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CBA includes a clause called the force majeure event clause that includes multiple dramatic scenarios — including epidemics — that the league could trigger in the event of a worst-case scenario. Other instances that could trigger the clause include natural disasters and war.

Now, it’s important to also mention that Wojnarowski reports that the league and NBPA have not discussed using that provision, and that players would “lose 1/92.6 of their salary for every game missed as a result of a force majeure event.” With just a handful of games left in the season, there is no way the league could take away the majority of these players’ money, at the very least.

Still, while the Lakers are apparently optimistic that the season will get going again, I detailed yesterday that there are several reasons why I’m less hopeful. That could — according to this provision — mean that players would lose out on real money here, and so hopefully all of them saved well (or the owners around the league do the right thing, but it’s hard to always count on that happening).

But at the bare minimum — and after putting profits over player, staff and fan safety last week — it seems that between the moratorium and the next paycheck, the league is taking care of its players (and some of their staffers) for now. As this suspension gets longer, it will be important for fans and the media to hold them accountable for continuing to do so.

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