On Sunday, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC hereafter) issued a statement recommending the cancellation of all events consisting of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.
This is obviously a massive development as it relates to suspended American sports leagues returning to play — especially the NBA. Last week, commissioner Adam Silver said the league’s current hiatus would last for “at least” 30 days, but that timeline always felt optimistic. The CDC’s newest update cements that feeling.
Should the league abide by the CDC's recommendation, the earliest feasible return to action would be in mid-May, pushing play well back into the summer.
But according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, even a return in the middle of May might be wishful thinking. Per Wojnarowski, the current sentiment around the league is that a “best-case scenario” would be resuming in mid-to-late June without fans. Teams are reportedly preparing to play through as late as August:
CDC recommendation of no events of 50-plus people for next two months comes as a number of NBA owners and executives increasingly believe a best case scenario is a mid-to-late June return to play -- with no fans. League's scouting for possible arena dates all the way thru August.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 15, 2020
The ramifications of that timeline are widespread, from scheduling gymnastics (where will teams play deep into the summer with arenas more than likely double-booked? What about the '20-21 season?) to potential financial losses (how will players be compensated if play extends past the end of their contracts? How will the salary cap be impacted?).
According to Wojnarowski and ESPN’s Malika Andrews, the cancellation of the remainder of the G League’s schedule is currently on the table:
Reporting with @malika_andrews: NBA teams operating G League franchises expect rest of the minor-league season will soon be cancelled, sources tell ESPN. Regular season runs thru end of March, playoffs into April. Players have been informed they'll be paid thru end of schedule.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 15, 2020
Taking that action — while unfortunate — could go some way towards assuaging the financial consequences of this hiatus. Wojnarowski did add that if the rest of the G League season is cancelled, all players will be compensated.
Beyond obvious calender issues, the fact G League teams travel on commericial airlines and generally are money-drains for NBA teams make it even harder to move forward for rest of the season. No imminent announcement and G-League teams have been told to stay in town for now. https://t.co/nd1DdGeoV5— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 16, 2020
The more layers of this story that are peeled back, the more it becomes apparent that this is only the beginning.