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Chinese Basketball Association delays restart until May

2019/2020 CBA League - Beijing Shougang Ducks v Shenzhen New Century Leopards

BEIJING, CHINA - DECEMBER 08: View of jerseys (51) of the late basketball player Ji Zhe on courtside seats before 2019/2020 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) League 14th round match between Beijing Shougang Ducks and Shenzhen New Century Leopards at Cadillac Arena on December 8, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

VCG via Getty Images

The Chinese Basketball Association has delayed their return to play until May. The CBA had previously said they would return to play in mid-April. That announcement came after an initial planned restart in early-April.

The continued delays have foreign-born players, including over 20 from the United States, wondering if the league will resume playing at all this year. One player agent told NBC Sports “American players in China are starting to realize the league may not start. We will likely see American players leaving China very soon.”

The CBA caused a stir earlier this month when they summoned players back to China. Players were to resume practicing in mid-March ahead the league’s planned restart. Many players were unsure if it was safe to travel back to China after the coronavirus outbreak. With COVID-19 spreading across the United States, players were also leery of leaving their families again.

China has become a top destination for US-born players, including many former NBA players. The salaries are high and the schedule is relatively light compared to European leagues. The CBA season also typically ends in mid to late-March. That early end date gives players a chance to return to the NBA before the end of its season.

Prominent former NBA players signed to contracts with CBA teams include Lance Stephenson, Jeremy Lin, Ty Lawson, Shabazz Muhammad and Brandon Bass.

Eyes around the basketball world were on the CBA and their return to play. Many leagues, including the NBA, viewed the CBA as a test-case for how quickly they could also get back up and running. This delay only furthers worries on when, and if, the NBA will be able to save what’s left of the 2019-20 season.