NBA champ Stephen Curry, the league’s highest-paid player this season, could lose about $435,000 for each game missed due to the league suspending the season for at least 30 days over the coronavirus pandemic, reported PTI on Friday (March 13).
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players might lose 1.08% of their annual salary for each game that ultimately is not played. A player, who had a two-way contract converted to a regular NBA deal for this season would stand to lose about $9,700 per game, it stated.
“What we determined today is that this hiatus will be, most likely, at least 30 days,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on TNT’s Inside the NBA while making his first public comments since the league suspended play on Wednesday night after Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19. A second Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell, said Thursday that he has also tested positive.
Later, in an open letter to the fans, Silver said: “We intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.”
Silver did not mention if the league intends for the regular season to resume or if the NBA, should it return to action, would immediately go into postseason play. It’s also unclear if play will be able to resume with fans in the stands, something the league’s owners were willing to go without prior to Gobert’s diagnosis and the escalation of the situation.
The 30-day minimum hiatus would mean no games until at least April 10.
With about 259 games left on this season’s schedule, if the regular season is not resumed, it would be the second-largest number of games missed in the league’s history.
The 2011-12 season was shortened by a total of 240 games due to a lockout that wound up trimming 16 games from each team’s schedule. The 1998-99 season lost 464 games because of another lockout where teams wound up playing a 50-game schedule.
Shutting down could cost the league hundreds of millions in revenue such as tickets sold, concessions and purchases of souvenirs and merchandise adding to the financial concerns of a year where the league lost as much as $400 million, by its own estimate, after a rift last fall that started with a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Silver also added that the league and the players association will have to continue determining what makes sense without compromising anyone’s safety, expressing that he feels that it’s frankly too early to tell.
“This literally changes hour-by-hour in terms of what we know,” Silver said, adding “Of course it’s possible that the season might be over. I just don’t know more at this point.”
The regular season was to go until April 15, with the playoffs scheduled to start on April 18 and the NBA Finals to begin June 4.
The NBA’s 30-day plan was decided on the same day when Major League Soccer announced a 30-day shutdown in response to the virus, and the Major League Baseball mentioned that opening day would be delayed at least two weeks and the NHL began what it called a pause in its season.
Interestingly, NBA great and long-time commentator Charles Barkley was not on the Inside the NBA broadcast on Thursday night and revealed that he is self-quarantining for 48 hours as he has not felt well since a recent trip to New York.
Barkley said he has been tested for COVID-19 and has not yet received the results. “This thing is so scary,” he added.
For now, NBA players have been told to remain in their home market through at least Monday. Some teams such as the Toronto Raptors that are self-quarantining would, in theory, need to remain a place for longer and speak to a team physician or team athletic trainer once daily. Group workouts and practices are not being permitted yet.
“This remains part of a complicated and rapidly evolving situation that reminds us that we are all part of a broader society with a responsibility to look out for one another. That is what the NBA will continue to do, and we are grateful for your understanding and for being the best fans in sports,” Silver wrote.
Also on Thursday, the NBA 2K League announced that its scheduled March 24 start would be delayed and that its teams would compete in preseason tournaments remotely to prepare for the season.
(With inputs from agencies)