Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard made some waves over the weekend when he confirmed that he was considering sitting out the remainder of the NBA season, and that he agreed with Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving that the league should cancel the campaign so that players and the country can continue to focus on the Black Lives Matter movement.
But despite the Lakers’ initial concern that Howard would sit out the year, his agent confirmed that the veteran big man hasn’t made a decision on what he’ll do if the NBA resumes yet. If he chooses to skip the Lakers’ remaining games, we already knew that the team would be able to sign a replacement player during an upcoming transaction window (the exact dates for that are still TBD), but on Monday morning, Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN confirmed what the consequences and protocol for Howard or any other players who choose to sit out would be:
In the NBA and NBPA agreement, players choosing to not join their teams in the bubble will not be penalized by teams, but they will lose payment on games missed — 1/92nd of the money owed him, sources said.
For players who believe they have a medical reason that elevates them into a higher-risk COVID-19 category and want to be excused with pay, the NBA and NBPA have set up an independent doctor’s panel to evaluate the player and make a determination, sources said.
Even if the player is pronounced healthy enough to play without a heightened risk, he is still able to stay home — only without pay, sources said.
This is not particularly surprising, and partially explains the recent wave of announcements that various players around the league were having season-ending surgeries. But realistically, for a player like Howard — who has made over $240 million in his career, the fourth-highest total salary of any active NBA player, not including endorsements — that financial deterrent may not stop them from doing whatever they feel is the right thing here.
However, for other players, especially ones at the lower rungs of the league, this may qualify as a somewhat significant loss of income, and something that could affect which way they vote as the NBPA keeps deliberating on whether or not to have the season. As this process of returning to play continues, this is just one more motivating factor worth keeping in mind.