The requests had not been made as of Tuesday afternoon but were planned in hopes of avoiding cuts that affect lower-level staff members. Once the deferments begin, they will last until the first regular-season game of the 2020-21 season or mid-December, whichever comes sooner. The NBA season typically begins in late October, but it is unclear how the pandemic will affect the schedule for this season and the next.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Monday in an interview streamed on Twitter that he has told league executives they probably would not be able to make any decisions until after April.
“I don’t think that necessarily means that, on May 1, we will be [making a decision,]” Silver said. “It doesn’t mean that, internally, both the league and discussions with our players and the teams we aren’t looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season, but I think it honestly is just too early, given what’s happened right now, to even be able to project or predict where we will be in a few weeks.”
Lakers guard Danny Green said while appearing on his podcast, “Inside the Green Room,” that a recent conference call that included NBPA executive director Michele Roberts and players led him to believe the season would start in May. “I think by any means necessary we’re gonna try to salvage the season,” Green said.
It’s unlikely, though, that California would allow gatherings for basketball games by mid-May, as Gov. Gavin Newsom said recently that he expects the pandemic to peak in mid-May in the state. Many league observers believe players would need at least a two-week training camp period before they would be ready to resume games.
When the league halted operations after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11, the NBA had a conference call with team governors in which there was an expectation that the shutdown would last at least 30 days. The league will cross that threshold this week.
In the meantime, teams have lost much of the revenue that would have come with those games. The Lakers are one of the league’s most profitable teams but made staff cuts during the lockout in 2011, as did many teams.
The lockout year was the last time games were lost during the regular season. That season, though, the league was able to start up more quickly than it would this year as players were still able to gather for workouts and pickup games. COVID-19 regulations in most places prevent such gatherings now. The NBA has also asked that players not use gyms or workout spaces outside their homes.
The regular season was scheduled to end April 15, with the playoffs starting three days later.
The Lakers (49-14) have the best record in the Western Conference, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers (44-20). The Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) lead the East.