NBA Commissioner Adam Silver admitted this week that the league won’t relaunch its COVID-19-interrupted season in April.
“The short answer is no,” Silver said in a 29-minute interview with TNT Sports’ Ernie Johnson on Monday. “Essentially what I’ve told my folks over the last week is that we should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions. And I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be.”
NBA spokesman Mike Bass also chimed in on the league’s aspirations to resume play.
“While our foremost priority remains everyone’s health and well-being, the league office continues to evaluate all options for a return to play,” Bass told ESPN.
The NBA suspended the season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
Adam Silver is basing his proclamation on medical advice. Throughout the United States, there’s a recommendation that gatherings of 50 people or more should be called off until at least early May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the recommendation.
Therefore, life in the United States — and elsewhere around the world — has come to a grinding halt. In the U.S., “most state governments have issued stay-at-home orders since then, with all but ‘essential’ businesses remaining open and enforcing social-distancing guidelines,” NBC Sports reported.
Which is why Silver is not prepared to finalize plans to resume the 2020-21 NBA season.
“What I’ve learned over the last few weeks is we just have too little information to be able to make those sorts of projections,” the commissioner said.
Talk of resuming play
While Adam Silver is cautiously optimistic that the season can start again, several obstacles remain. First and foremost, the health and safety of players, coaches, and league personnel.
In regard to health matters, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association have been exploring COVID-19 testing options, utilizing blood-testing contraptions.
“The hope is the test can provide an accurate reading in minutes to help insure the safety of players, staff and others,” the New York Post reported. “The test, according to the report, would likely involve the prick of a finger. Abbott Laboratories is already shipping Food and Drug Administration approved rapid-response tests across the U.S., according to the Washington Post. Those tests can deliver results in five to 13 minutes.”
There’s been talk that Adam Silver would give the green light for the NBA to hold its entire 16-team postseason behind closed doors in Las Vegas.
Familiar venues already exist in Sin City: The NBA Summer League is held at T-Mobile Arena and Thomas & Mack Center.
Another playoff proposal
NBA commentator Jay Williams proposed another entirely different idea: games on cruise ships.
Williams revealed his ideas on the “Golic and Wingo” TV program.
“Maybe if you can take two of those massive cruise ships, and there’s testing before everybody goes on the ship,” Williams said. “You allow the player and their immediate family being that wife or their kids are allowed to go with them. And you have an Eastern Conference cruise ship, and you have a Western Conference cruise ship.”
He added: “…You stay out on the cruise ships. You build two courts on those cruise ships. … Team members and their family members could be isolated to a degree for that span — if that’s 40 days, whatever it may be.
“You go right into the playoffs. Maybe give a week for each team to prepare. But you go right into that for the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. And then you have the championship game on a cruise ship.”
Of course, Williams’ idea could backfire if one person on either cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19.
But this is also true: Adam Silver could pull the plug on the idea of playing any more regular-season games, and be forced to call off the postseason for the first time in league history.
The clock is ticking
NBA player and coach contracts expire on June 30. Will owners and the NBPA agree to extend that deadline if the season/playoffs are somehow resurrected?
The draft is set to be held on June 25, but it could be pushed back. Or held as a virtual event, sans the normal glitz and glamour — and Adam Silver’s time in the spotlight.
Fran Fraschilla, a prominent talent evaluator and former NCAA coach, said that the league should call off the draft lottery. The event is scheduled for May 14 in Chicago. But unless the season is played out, the 14 lottery positions wouldn’t be known by that date.
Thus, Fraschilla argues, the reality of this year’s challenge is to proceed with a draft under unusual circumstances.
“I think the lottery order is down the list of priorities,” Fraschilla said in an interview with the New York Post. “I’d be down with (no lottery). … Leave the order as is and go on with the next step on when they can feasibly have an NBA Draft.”
Indeed, Adam Silver and the league’s board of governors face a number of difficult decisions in the days and weeks to come.