NBA owners, executives tab June return as ‘best-case scenario’

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

The uncertainty surrounding the severity of the spread of coronavirus has left the future of the four major North American sports leagues in question. 

Last week, it was the NBA that helped set the precedent of postponing its play after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert — and later his teammate, Donovan Mitchell — tested positive for the virus. 

With play halted in the final quarter of the regular season, the NBA is looking at a lengthy absence before a return to normalcy is even possible. 

But even if it returns, there will be major tweaks to get the rest of the season and playoffs done promptly considering the belief around the league.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA owners and executives “are bracing” for play to resume in mid-to-late June, which was described as a “best-case scenario.”

The NBA Finals usually conclude in mid-June, with last year’s clincher coming on the 13th of the month. 

If the NBA took that route, they would have to either condense the rest of the season and playoffs or push back the start of the 2020-21 campaign. 

Playing out the entire remainder of the regular season and the full postseason would see the NBA season wrapping up in September if it picked back up in June, meaning there would be a one-month offseason.

Obviously, that isn’t feasible.

Wojnarowski noted, though, that “fears exist of a season [being] completely lost.”

Those concerns stem from the United States’ failure to promptly address the severity of the virus, which evolved into a global pandemic in recent weeks. 

In a matter of days, the NBA went from playing its full schedule in front of sold-out crowds to toying with the idea of playing in empty arenas, to canceling its season after Gobert and Mitchell’s positive tests.

Since then, Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons has also tested positive.

Per Wojnarowski, NBA owners will be presented with the financial ramifications of canceling the rest of the season, playing out the length with no fans in attendance, or allowing fans back in for playoff games.

Of course, this is all dependent on how the country’s leadership handles and suppresses the spread of coronavirus.

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