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Report: NBA would lose $900 million in television money if playoffs are canceled


NETHERLANDS - 2020/04/02: In this photo illustration a latex test tube for the Covid-19 coronavirus seen next to US dollar banknotes. (Photo Illustration by Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

Optimism remains high in league circles that the NBA will complete this season. Exactly how, where, and what that restart will all look like remain unanswered questions, but within the next month NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to make the call and lay out a plan.

Why doesn’t the league just scrap this season and plan for the next one? There are more than 900 million reasons for that, reports Sam Amick at The Athletic.

The lost national television revenue from these playoffs alone would be approximately $900 million, according to a source who gleaned the figure from one of the many conference calls with Silver recently. If the NBA can’t find a way to play regular-season games, sources say teams will also lose out on regional sports network revenues that require them to air at least 70 games to achieve the financial threshold that is so routinely discussed in league circles.

That 70-game mark is why there remains a push from Silver to bring all 30 teams back and play some regular season games before jumping to the playoffs (each team played between 63 and 67 games before play was suspended). Throw in lost gate revenue at arenas, and the league is going to lose more than a billion dollars due to the coronavirus shutdown (even if there are playoffs)

That revenue loss hits the players, too. On Friday (May 15), most of them got their first check with 25% taken out, part of an agreement between the league and players’ union to help prepare for canceled games and the league exercising the “force majeure” provision in the CBA. The more money lost by the league, the more players are going to feel it in the pocketbook this season and in future ones.

Which motivates players to get back on the court. For the players, it’s a matter of balancing risk and reward — the vast majority want to start play again, but only if it’s safe. How much is too much risk is a personal decision, but one Silver is going to have to find a consensus on.

One other interesting note from Amick’s piece in the Athletic: One way to tighten up the schedule and get in more games is to shorten the training camps before those games tip-off, and that seems to be happening.

In terms of the training component, one source with knowledge of the league’s latest talking points said the time estimates for a training camp have been shortened in recent weeks. Whereas the early discussions involved the possible prospect of needing four or five weeks for camps, the goal now appears to be closer to two or three.

That’s concerning in terms of injury prevention.

“We call it spiking the workloads, you never want to go from zero to 100, that’s when you see a lot of injuries,” one team’s strength and training coach told NBC Sports, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “You’re going to need a slow ramp-up. How slow it is going to be somewhat limited, with everyone wanting to get things going.”

The NBA knows all this, it’s trying to balance all this, and Silver has been clear with owners and players there is no perfect answer, no risk-free decision. He’s looking to find the best of a lot of bad options.

But there are 900 million reasons for him to find a way to make the playoffs happen.