NBA players get their checks on the 1st and the 15th like most employed people do throughout the whole year. That means that with the check they received yesterday on April 1, they got about 40% of their agreed salary for the '19/'20 season (10 out of 24 checks). The league now has an option to withhold 1.08 percent of each player's 2019-20 salary for every game missed by invoking a "force majeure" clause designed for emergencies.
Let's keep it simple. "Force majeure" is a standard legal clause that says if everything goes to hell, we can make radical moves. One of those moves is the NBA not sending paychecks to players until it covers games not played. The way the CBA defines it, the league could withhold 24.69% of each player's base salary. In case the league decides to do so, some players would have to pay some money back. LeBron James, for instance, would have to write a check for $6.12 million back to the league to cover his share. Why?
There are 20 players in the league that negotiated an advanced payment structure. They can get up to 0% of their salary up-front and then take the other 50% on a 6-month, 12-month, or 18-month payment schedule. Twenty players in the league managed to get the 50% up-front and a 6-month payment deal. Ten are represented by Klutch Sports.
“For a player like LeBron James, who has the hyper-accelerated structure on his contract, that would mean he’d have to write a check for $6.12 million back to the league to cover his share. As of April 1, he’ll have already been paid $34.32 million of his $37.44 million salary for this season: half up-front, plus ten of his 12 payments of the remaining $18.72 million. The Lakers would withhold his two remaining checks in full, totaling $3.12 million, but they would have no further checks from which they could withhold for the 2019-20 season and would still be $6.12 million short of the $9.24 million he stands to lose in this situation.”
Jeff Siegel, Early Bird Rights
The league understands a renegotiation of the CBA will be necessary, and starting a conflict with the players would make it a lot more complicated. As reported by Brian Windhorst, the league won't pull the trigger with the "force majeure" but suggested the 25% is put in escrow as a precautionary measure. This way, the owners are signaling to the players they don't want to take the money away, which they could.
When it comes to the season returning, this signals that the scenario of most games being played in a later period and stretching the season to the start of NFL is not likely. Players will lose some of their money, how much is yet to be seen.