Each time the NBA devises a plan to open the league, new concerns emerge. High-risk coaches and team personnel could contract the virus. Isolation from families for extended periods is a non-starter. That would put Keith Smith’s awesome Disney plan in doubt, and apparently the entire 2019-20 season. Some NBA execs reportedly called for the season to be shelved, which would make 2020 the first year without a basketball champ since 1946.
LeBron James — who originally shunned the idea of playing without fans — denies that cancellation is on the table. Despite the billions the league stands to lose and long-lasting salary cap implications, league sources told CNBC that liability and logistics are an even larger hindrance. No uniform idea exists and the league continues to seek anyone — Brad Stevens included — with new ones.
Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 30, 2020
With 18 regular season games remaining for Boston and the playoffs, the league likely needs more than two months as currently structured, with each week drawing closer to next season and diminishing the NBA calendar. The draft combine, lottery and other related events were delayed indefinitely, a sign the league still hopes to continue in June or July.
As California and New York maintain stay at home orders that’ll likely end in June, continuing without structural changes becomes nearly impossible. Whether changing the playoffs, cancelling the regular season it’ll leave someone unhappy. An incomplete season may frustrate fans, teams and players but avoids a nearly impossible task of fairness.
Owners, especially ones operating at a loss, also see cost-benefit issues. Testing, travel and other expenses likely won’t return fans, while stadium employees remain out of work without fans. The perception issue of pushing forward while the nation is in lockdown, along with using testing resources remain hurdles too.
The Garden Report discussed this and more after cancellation movement grew within NBA ranks. Would you like to see this year conclude if it’ll impact next season’s structure?