NBA Commissioner Adam Silver hosted a conference call with the NBPA on Friday, in which he described a precarious and unpredictable path for the near-future of the league.
“This could turn out to be the single greatest challenge of all our lives,” Silver told the players.
Silver candidly admitted that while game-night spending accounts for nearly 40% of the NBA’s revenue stream, fans will not be permitted to attend games until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes widely available to the public. Additionally, he acknowledged there was no guarantee fans could fully return to NBA arenas next season either.
Though fans won’t immediately be incorporated into a potential return to play this season, the Commissioner outlined a plan that would see the NBA resume in a one or two site system. Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada were two locations discussed for a possible resumption of the regular season and the 2020 Playoffs.
“There’s no point in adding risk for flying all of you city to city if there’s not going to be fans,” Silver said. “We think it would be safer to be in a single location, or two locations, to start.”
Maintaining a traditional best of seven series format appears to be a priority for the league if a postseason eventually happens. With that being said, Silver touched on how a play-in tournament could accommodate more teams in a shortened season scenario.
As for a set return date, Silver said no decision needed to be made in May, or even the beginning of June. He also indicated a three-week training camp period would be necessary before any organized competition could recommence, and that the start of next season could realistically be postponed until December.
The Commissioner informed players of the difficulties the Coronavirus Pandemic could pose for both the league and its players, including the financial repercussions on their basketball-related income and the salary cap. Despite the challenges ahead, Silver reminded everyone these issues would be collectively bargained with the NBPA at an appropriate time.