The NBA has been out of our lives for four days, and unfortunately, that might not even make a dent in the league’s expected absence.
Initially, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league’s suspension would be at least 30 days. However, he was clear that this projected timetable was created by nothing more than hope. With the risk of COVID-19 spread only becoming more severe, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see that number extended several times.
And due to a new recommendation by the Center for Disease Control, we might be getting that first extension:
— Shira Stein (@shiramstein) March 15, 2020
The CDC has recommended no events with over 50 people should take place over the next two months. If the NBA were to take that to heart, it means we could possibly not see basketball until mid-May at the earliest. I know that might feel like an incredibly long wait, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA suspects it will stretch out even longer, and without fans:
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
Now, to be clear, Woj isn’t saying this is confirmed, but even knowing it’s on the table is a bummer. Plus, when the season would resume in June, it would be without fans in attendance, according to Woj. Oof.
I’m all on board for better safe than sorry, but it might not be necessary to make a decision on a re-launch date at this point. I’m more on board to play this whole thing by ear. It’s hard to say exactly where the situation will be two months from now in mid-May, but if things have seen little improvement then, by all means, extend the start of the season to June.
With that said, I can understand why some owners find this to be an intriguing solution. A long absence means more time for everything to die down and more time to ensure all players remain healthy. Not to mention, it gives everyone (hopefully) a more concrete target date for when the league might return.
I think it’s important to point out though that this recommendation from the CDC that could play a role in the NBA’s return arguably doesn’t prohibit the league from playing without fans. Yes, with full team staffs and broadcast crews, the number of people in attendance could certainly reach this 50 person benchmark, but the CDC’s recommendation says these gatherings can be held if proper health guidelines are followed, and if they are a part of the day-to-day operations of businesses (see paragraphs 3 and 4). It is at least plausible that the NBA could take the necessary steps forward – after assuring all players do not carry the virus – to resume games without fans earlier than June.
In general, my fingers are just crossed we can have safe basketball sooner rather than later, but I’ll continue to understand and support the motivation behind waiting.
Meanwhile, the NBA G-League might have to end up canceling its entire season.
Beyond obvious calender issues, the fact G League teams travel on commericial airlines and generally are money-drains for NBA teams make it even harder to move forward for rest of the season. No imminent announcement and G-League teams have been told to stay in town for now. https://t.co/nd1DdGeoV5
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 16, 2020
While this situation is difficult for the NBA, it’s even more difficult for the G-League. As Wojnarowski explains above, many of the logistics will be too complicated to re-schedule and properly address. Ending the season might be the best decision for everyone.
The league will just have to ensure all players, staff members, and day-of-game personnel are compensated as if the season resumed as normal.