You might want to sit down for this.
With the NBA nearing its 4th week on hiatus, a conversation many of us hoped would never come has reportedly started up. According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the NBA and the NBAPA are beginning to prepare for the possibility of canceling the remainder of the 2019-20 season.
Here’s what he had to say on Sportscenter:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 4, 2020
And let’s put the most important part down in writing:
The talks between the players union and the league this week, I’ve talked to both sides on this issue, and it’s clear the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down … they are not having talks about how to restart the league, they are having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now.
Yup. This sucks.
I don’t think many of us can say we’re surprised the league is beginning to have these discussions, especially with the unpredictability of the ongoing pandemic. However, we also knew from the moment this suspension stretched for even a week, that the league would have to jump through a lot of hoops to resume play. As the weeks (or months) go on, chances are there will be too many obstacles to overcome.
Now, it’s important to note that Windhorst did not rule out the idea of a continued season. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear that’s still a perfectly realistic option on the table. But the league is now also preparing for the exact opposite, and that’s a pretty significant change from what we’ve heard over the past several weeks.
Indeed, to this point, the league has remained optimistic, if anything. On March 18th, when asked about the possibility of canceling the remaining games and handing end-of-season awards on ESPN, Commissioner Adam Silver told Rachel Nichols: “I’m not there yet. We’ll figure it out. I hope I’m not just in denial, but I’m just not there yet.”
Unfortunately, he may have been in denial (and so was I).
Again, according to Windhorst though, the way the NBA is negotiating things is to leave themselves an option to finish out the season … whatever that means exactly. He made sure to clarify that he does believe the league has “runway,” which means it’s possible to have a plan in place where the season finishes in August or September. However, the goal seems to revolve around a sort of cutoff date, where the league can avoid stretching things too far into the future: “There either comes a point where you go too far and you start to look at damaging two seasons, and that is what the NBA is trying to evaluate,” Windhorst said.
I’m sure as the days go by we’ll get additional updates on what the league is actually considering. It’s also entirely possible their decision will be impacted by the call with the President of the United States later today.
On the other end of things, the method of a league resumption that has gained the most traction recently has been to try and quarantine players in one safe location, specifically Las Vegas. Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reported that the idea – which first gained popularity online – was being considered by the NBA. The league is nowhere near making any groundwork on turning that into a reality, but as league source told Mannix, “nothing is off the table.”
NOTE: MLB is considering a similar idea in Arizona, so it’s not totally off the walls.
But personally … I think the idea sounds nearly impossible, unless they’re able to cut down the number of players and team personnel involved significantly. The league would still need to test everyone for the virus first, as well as continue to test them daily while they’re in quarantine. The growing issue across the United States is asymptomatic carries, so the NBA would have to find a way to ensure that none of the players, coaches, or team personnel have the virus.
I just don’t know. While I want the season to continue, this sounds so hard to pull off.