There’s no guarantee that the 2019-20 NBA season can resume or be completed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It looks like the worst-case scenario is a real possibility.
Last Wednesday, World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. The NBA suspended its season on the same day.
On Sunday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has headquarters in Atlanta, released a recommendation to combat COVID-19.
The CDC’s recommendation?
No gatherings or events with 50 or more people for eight weeks.
Best-case scenario for 2019-20 NBA season
On Sunday, ESPN.com published a banner story, citing league sources, with this summary: “NBA owners and executives are bracing for the possibility of mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario for the league’s return…”
With that possibility, owners are preparing for the potential relaunch of the 2019-20 NBA season to be played without fans in the stands. Additionally, they are gearing up for potential games to be held at various venues, including smaller gyms, that aren’t routinely used for NBA games.
The worst-case scenario
Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News, explained why it’s quite possible that the current campaign won’t be completed.
“There are, conservatively, 150 NBA head coaches and assistants. There are 70 referees. Then there are doctors, trainers and others who are essential to having practices and games,” Townsend wrote. “The way it’s been explained to me by multiple league sources, if any of the above or anyone they closely encounter tests positive for COVID-19, 14-day quarantines will commence for the affected team and — out of competitive fairness — the 29 other teams would have to cease training.”
Thus, the 2019-20 NBA season could become an asterisk in the annals of league history.
Health risks and unknown factors make it impossible to know if the 2019-20 NBA season can be completed.
No team practices
The league-imposed team practice ban, which also began last week, will continue for an uncertain duration, according to news reports. But one ESPN NBA insider reported that players can still conduct individual workouts at team facilities.
NBA G League update
Meanwhile, published reports indicate that NBA G League clubs don’t expect to complete their season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The G League suspended its season after the NBA took the unprecedented step of putting its season on hold after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus before a game on March 11. The Jazz were scheduled to play a road game against the Oklahoma City Thunder that day.
Under normal circumstances, the season concludes in March and the G League playoffs wrap up in the middle of April.
G League’s waiting game
For now, G League players and team personnel remain in their teams’ home cities waiting for decisions to be made.
There are 28 teams in the G League. The original schedule: 50 games per team.
One factor cited in the G League’s expected decision to declare the season finished is huge financial losses for NBA owners, according to media reports. What’s more, G League clubs use commercial airlines for travel. The cost of airfare and logistics of arranging for flights at a time of upheaval at airports compounds the complex situation.
Which is why relaunching the G League season appears quite unlikely.
Adam Silver’s letter
In an open letter to NBA fans NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the decision was made to “safeguard the health and well-being of fans, players, everyone connected to our game and the general public.”
“The hiatus will last at least 30 days, and we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned,” Silver wrote.
Support for suspension of season
Prominent NBA personalities, including Hall of Famers Magic Johnson and Hubie Brown, expressed support for the decision to suspend the 2019-20 NBA season.
Magic tweeted: “All of the professional sports leagues did the right thing suspending their seasons due to the coronavirus…”
“It’s crazy to see the @NBA shut down like this,” Brown wrote on Twitter, “but that is absolutely the right call at this time.”
Players with COVID-19
Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons are also infected with COVID-19.
In a video message, Mitchell, an All-Star, said his recovery is “going well.”
On Sunday, Gobert addressed the issue of his health via Twitter.
“I’ve been feeling a little better every single day thanks to the healthcare people of Utah, Oklahoma City, and all the great people around me,” he said.
Gobert continued: “…Try to avoid touching your face, your nose, your eyes, and of course try to avoid making any unnecessary contact with people. It’s all about protecting yourself and the people around you…”
Teams undergoing self-quarantine
After facing the Jazz recently, the league office directed the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons self-quarantine for 14 days.
In short, the NBA wants anyone that came in contact with the Jazz to take precaution measures.
April’s Portsmouth Invitational Tournament was canceled on Sunday due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s one more development related to the complications that surround the 2019-20 NBA season.
The pre-draft combine, a marquee event for college seniors, has been held every year since 1953.