A few football and basketball notes on the business side of things at this strange time …
- With the NBA shut down, a number of players and owners are indicating they will take care of the lost compensation for stadium workers (including the Bulls). But what about the salaries of the players, who aren’t playing games and whose teams aren’t generating revenue? Well, as we’ve discussed, it depends on whether the NBA believes it can and will make up the games currently under suspension, and, if not, whether the NBA wants to invoke a rule in the CBA that allows them to pay only a pro-rated salary to the players. Interestingly, the NBA may have to make this decision first before MLB does (and they have a similar rule).
- For now, the National Basketball Players Association is taking the position that, yes, the owners will definitely pay player salaries – on time – and are reassuring their members of the same:
Sources: The National Basketball Players Association has sent a memo to player agents stating that they “fully expect that players will continue to receive salary on their designated paydays” during NBA’s suspended season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 14, 2020
- The big “however”? More from Charania: “The NBPA has not had discussions on potential adjustments and stated they do not expect to until further scheduling decisions are made, per memo. Many factors still in play.” In other words, they expect the players to be paid … pending further scheduling decisions. So it almost seems to me like the union is saying they expect their players to be paid on time for now, AND they expect the games ultimately to be made up. Though they have to know that’s really still a TBD situation.
- Meanwhile, in the NFL, the biggest COVID-19-related question is tied to the biggest question of all facing the sport: did the new CBA pass? Voting ended overnight, and the results are being tabulated as I type. It’s possible, whether it passes or not, that the league will proceed with free agency tomorrow as scheduled, though it sure seems like that would look kinda tone deaf at this time:
NFL continues to say it’s business as usual and new league will start this week.
Multiple team officials express widespread skepticism that the NFL can start its league year this week, when our country is in crisis and so much – travel, visits, physicals – would have to happen.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2020
- It’s possible – likely, even? – that the league is simply waiting on the results of the CBA vote before deciding whether to push back any league activities. If that’s the case, it could be an exceedingly wild day for the NFL. Stay tuned.
- No hints yet on the CBA results, by the way, as it was expected to be a very close vote. The executive director of the Players Association posted this open letter after the voting was closed, however:
An open letter. pic.twitter.com/lBNmQ6ZMo7
— DeMaurice Smith (@DeSmithNFLPA) March 15, 2020
- In short, Smith is preempting whatever way the decision goes: it was a good deal, in his view, when you consider all the constituents – with WILDLY different interests – and the longer-term impact of risking not getting a deal done right now.