NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday the league shut-down because of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to last “at least 30 days”.
That would see the league shuttered through what would have been about the last month of its regular season.
“What we determined today is that this hiatus will be, most likely, at least 30 days,” Silver said on TNT’s “Inside The NBA” program.
The NBA suspended play on Wednesday after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
A second Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell, has reportedly also tested positive.
The regular season was scheduled to end on April 15 with the playoffs to begin on April 18.
Silver offered no indication of whether the league was considering shortening either the regular season or the playoffs, and indeed said it was hard to know at this point what the options might be.
Once the 30 days is up, he said, “the question becomes is there a protocol, frankly, with or without fans, where we can resume play.”
Silver discussed the talks league officials, teams and players union representatives were having before Gobert’s positive test about contingency plans in the face of increased coronavirus incidence in the United States.
“Up to a few days ago or even yesterday, the experts were unclear as to whether, as a public health matter, NBA arenas should be emptied,” he said.
On Wednesday league officials spoke with teams to get their views about the possibility of playing games with no fans in the stands or taking “some kind of hiatus.”
The decision ended up coming in dramatic style after Utah’s game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City was called off just as it was due to start and fans cleared from the arena.
Shortly thereafter the NBA announced that a Jazz player had tested positive for COVID-19 and that games would be suspended from Thursday.
For the time being NBA players have reportedly been told to remain in their team’s cities at least through Monday.
Group workouts and practice are not allowed, but team medical staff are in touch with players.
– Economic impact –
Joe Lacob, the Golden State Warriors owner who has a masters degree from the University of California at Los Angeles in public health said in an interview with The Athletic that the eventual economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the league is “monumental.”
“We just lost virtually all of our revenues for the foreseeable future,” Lacob said. “But we have huge expenses that aren’t going away. I feel for these part-time employees and local restaurants and Uber drivers and all of the service people that make their living in and around events like ours
“So many small businesses in the city of San Francisco will be impacted by this series of events.”
While that is undoubtedly true, Silver said that in further talks among owners on Thursday “not one team raised (the issue of) money.
“The entire discussion was about the safety and health of the players, the community around the NBA and our fans.”
What the league is trying to determine now he said, is “what makes sense here, without compromising anyone’s safety.
“I think it’s too early to tell.”