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The NBA suspended the season more than three weeks ago in the hope that play would resume over the course of the next few weeks, but as time passes by and the situation regarding the spread of COVID-19 continues to worsen, the league appears to be making plans to cancel the season altogether, according to reports.
NBA executives have floated several ideas, including empty arenas, a shortened playoff schedule and even one city to host the remainder of games — but it appears their optimism has shifted. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported Friday that the league is going forward with plans to prepare as if the season will be canceled.
“The talks between the players union and the league this week, I’ve talked to both sides of this issue, and it is clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down,” he said.
“Now they don’t have to do that yet, and the way they’re negotiating they’re leaving themselves an option either way, but they’re not having talks about how to restart the league, they’re having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now.”
Windhorst said a new concern that has come up this week is the possibility of damaging two seasons if the current one is pushed too far down.
“They do have runway here, I do think that if they had to go into August or September to finish this season, but I’m not sure they feel confident about that right now… If in six or eight weeks, if it is here, we can have a different conversation, but the league is preparing for that answer to be no.”
There other options the league is exploring that signal the NBA’s desperation to hold off canceling altogether.
According to The Athletic, the NBA is proposing that players take a 50 percent paycheck reduction beginning April 15, the next pay period. The NBPA has counter-proposed a 25 percent reduction of paychecks beginning in mid-May.
There has been no official word on canceling the season. League officials continue to exhaust every option to make a return to play but it will depend heavily on how the coronavirus pandemic plays out over the next several weeks.