There has been tons of speculation about whether or not the NBA will ultimately have to cancel its currently suspended season due to the threat of COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Fans are obviously hoping the league can come back — especially fans of contenders like the Lakers — but as I’ve written about plenty of times before, there are tons of reasons why it may be tough to make that happen.
The latest report on where the league is headed came from Brian Windhorst of ESPN, who painted a fairly pessimistic picture about the possibility of the league coming back:
“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.”
Part of that was grabbed in a tweet from Bleacher Report, and that was enough to send NBA Twitter into full-fledged freakout mode, even if the way this situation is developing has always made it seem like there may be too many obstacles for the season to resume, even with the league reportedly considering extreme and complicated ideas like sequestering all teams and personnel in one location for the postseason.
Our own Anthony Irwin — who has a rare medical condition that makes him incapable of not sharing his two cents on every single topic to cross the timeline — offered up his read on the situation, which led to Jared Dudley’s first dunk of the year:
You really think the owners want to cancel the season??? They would lose more then the players.. Everybody wants to salvage as much as we can if possible. Decision want be made to cancel season until June 1st at the earliest... We following the league/owners on this https://t.co/CSmAxtGko9— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 4, 2020
Never one to back down from a debate, my former podcast co-host continued his discussion with Dudley, and then Dudley kept expounding on various Twitter questions from there:
Some players could lose anywhere from 500k- 8million for losing 20-25 perfect of the season.. What you think an owner will lose? They make a min a million per playoff game.. Let alone the local and national T.V deal.. Trust me they want the season even more then the players https://t.co/ZHDzX9B1xE— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 4, 2020
Season would be pushed back to December! Opening night would be on Christmas https://t.co/M8BZayFlBD— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 4, 2020
No.. owners and league have no problem playing into September.. They want to crown a champion and play the playoffs at least.. https://t.co/qI7kMRlJ4f— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 4, 2020
I would agree with you, hence the 60 day window (June 1st) to see where where at as a country https://t.co/7AlspKGsO2— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 4, 2020
This is a complicated situation with a lot of moving parts to it, but it seems pretty easy to say that both sides would be financially hurt by the season not restarting. Who would be hurt worse? That’s up for league executives and the players’ union to argue about behind the scenes, but it’s not surprising that the players wouldn’t just want to publicly concede such a leverage point to the owners. For those who want an idea of how this whole situation might affect players, the always-informative Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights did an excellent explainer on how the season suspension would impact player paychecks here.
Maybe the NBA can figure out a way to get everyone quarantined, play games and keep its players from getting infected, but that also may not be feasible, or as important as following best practices to keep this pandemic from spreading. For now, plenty of states have instituted mandatory bans on gatherings, and the league would have to make sure it was in step with those, no matter where it continued the season. It just may not be feasible to do so under the law, or common sense, depending on how this pandemic develops.
And that last part is big, because the important thing here, beyond logistics, money and even crowning a champion, is — as Dudley noted — safety. If it’s not safe for the league to bring its players, coaches, officials and other essential staff together for games due to the continuing threat of the coronavirus, then the season has to be cancelled. Full stop. It’s the only responsible thing to do.
We’ll see where things go from here, and the league has time to make this decision, but right now, it’s safe to say the prospect of the NBA season being shut down feels as real as it ever has. And with everything going on, if that’s the biggest thing we all have to complain about over the next few months, that’s really not too bad, all things considered. Basketball will be back, even if it has to start all over again. Hopefully we can all stay safe and healthy until then.