The NBA was the first of the major sports leagues in North America to be closed in the face of COVID-19. More than a month later, they are no closer to knowing when they could be active again.
Commissioner Adam Silver promised that it was "the dates, not the dates" and said the league could only collect information and wait for a Friday evening conference call following a regular meeting of the board of governors – one that would normally take place took place on the eve of the NBA playoffs.
"We all have to accept that we are working with incomplete facts here," said Silver. "There is an enormous amount to be learned about the virus."
He added: "We are unable to make a decision [about returning to play] and it is not clear when we will be."
Silver admitted that “sport in [the United States] is very symbolic and that we are finding a way back that will be of great importance to the Americans… we have not reached the point where we can say If [conditions] A, B and C are fulfilled, then there is a clear way.
“At the moment there is too much uncertainty to be able to say how exactly we are progressing. The underlying principle remains the health and safety of the NBA players and everyone involved. We start with priority and the decision tree moves on from there. "
Silver said the league would monitor infection rates, the availability of large-scale tests, the progress of potential vaccines, and potential antiviral drugs as part of any decision to return to the game, however distant.
"There is a lot of data," he said.
Richard Deitsch and Donnovan Bennett host a podcast on how COVID-19 affects sport around the world. They speak to experts, athletes and personalities and offer an insight into the lives of people for whom we usually take root in very different ways.
According to previous reports, teams and players are expected to take approximately 25 days to prepare for a return, and the league has considered scenarios in which the 2019-20 season will be extended to July and August.
But Silver said that any speech that the NBA could play again without fans in a single, quarantined place like the Las Vegas Casino – the so-called "bubble concept" – was premature.
"Many [ideas] have been proposed and we have only listened," said Silver, who stressed that any return to the game must be preceded by the assurance that health care professionals are properly on the front line of testing and testing would PSA. “We are not yet seriously concerned with this type of environment because I cannot answer exactly what we need to see to feel that this environment provides the health and safety that we need for our players and everyone involved.
“As I sit here today, there are too many unknowns to set a timeline, there are too many unknowns to say that these are the exact variables. We are currently unable to know more. ”
Silver said the NBA and its owners are ready to play again this season, but with significant restrictions.
“My feeling for NBA team owners is that if they can be part of the move to restart our economy, that includes the NBA. You almost see that as a civic obligation, ”he said. "… But when it comes to human life, it trumps anything else we can possibly talk about. So the talks started and ended today. "
Silver also confirmed an early report by Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN that the league and the NBA Players Association have agreed a mechanism to withhold money from players in the event that games are canceled due to COVID-19.
Players will be paid in full on May 1st, but their checks will be cut 25 percent according to a formula within the CBA from May 15th, with wage cuts extending into the first two months of the 2020-21 season
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The NBA and players share basketball-related income with a distribution of approximately 51-49 in favor of the players. To make room for adjustments, players already have 10 percent of their salary – around $ 380 million in total – in an escrow account if the earnings fall short of the forecasts. As long as the income is in line with expectations, players will receive the money deposited at the end of the financial year.
However, since the league ceased operations, it is expected that the revenue will not even reach the 10 percent held in the escrow. By reducing salaries, the league no longer has to chase players for money, and a potential loss of income for players is gradually being introduced.
The CBA has an unprecedented force majeure provision that allows owners to reclaim salaries for loss of revenue due to "unforeseen circumstances". It is triggered automatically as soon as games are officially canceled due to epidemics, pandemics or government regulations.
According to the Associated Press, the CBA requires players to lose approximately 1.09 percent of the salary per canceled game based on the Force Majeure provision. Given that there are still 259 games to play in the regular season, if canceled, players would lose about $ 800 million gross.
As soon as the games have been canceled, force majeure will be triggered automatically in the language of the CBA.
The NBA was the first of the major professional sports leagues to finalize a decision made after a positive test for the Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert on March 11th.
In previous statements, Silver said that until May 1, given the uncertainty of the landscape, he would not give instructions for the league's next steps.
He said on Friday that his outlook had not changed and that there was no guarantee that there would be clear guidelines at that time.