UPDATE: According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, teams are being asked to search for arenas for NBA playoff games in August, which suggests that the plan is for all teams to play out the remainder of their regular season schedule. Additionally, there’s a possibility that teams will play games in their practice facilities. For now, all of these games would be closed to fans.
The original story continues as follows.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new coronavirus safety guidelines on Sunday recommending that all gatherings of 50 people or more in the United States be cancelled or postponed for the next eight weeks. That means that the NBA will likely return a month past the one-month deadline it tentatively put in place on Thursday, and it sounds like the league is already preparing for that scenario.
According to a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Sunday, NBA owners and executives expect their respective teams to return to the court no sooner than June, which is three months from now.
CDC recommendation of no events of 50-plus people for next two months comes as a number of NBA owners and executives increasingly believe a best case scenario is a mid-to-late June return to play -- with no fans. League's scouting for possible arena dates all the way thru August.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 15, 2020
The aforementioned issue with venues is a obviously a problem that’s difficult to work around, but that will be true in mid-June too. The real benefit of waiting will be the possibility of playing in front of fans again.
The NBA planned on temporarily closing its games to fans prior to suspending the rest of the season entirely, and while they could still theoretically do that in a month, the amount of people that would have to be compromised as a result of the 50-person limited makes it unrealistic.
Just counting players, there are roughly 30 people that would have to be in the stadium. Then, when you count the coaches and training staff, that number quickly climbs up to 50.
Can cuts be made? Sure, but in an industry that is as detail-oriented as the NBA, the risk isn’t worth it. For that reason, it would be surprising to see the NBA return any time before July. Assuming that’s the case, there will be even more questions about the 2020 NBA Draft, free agency and the 2020-21 season.
In other words, a lot have to be figured out over the next few months.