The NBA suspended play after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. After the initial shock, a million questions arise. We will try to give clarity on what to expect and the implications this will have, as much as possible.
How long will the suspension last?
The WHO believes the incubation period for the virus is between 1-14 days. To be sure, all players, coaching staff and referees will be in some form of isolation for two weeks. After that time they can all be tested and hopefully cleared of the virus. That would be a best-case scenario. Experiences in other countries show that it usually takes longer. Anything under a month would be a tremendous surprise. The Chinese Basketball Asociation was on a 10-week break and is expected to continue its season in April.
What happens when play continues?
No-one knows. Depending on when that happens, there are several options. Some regular season could still be played, we could just go to the playoffs, and we might get shortened playoff series. It all depends if everyone involved would be OK with prolonging the season through the summer and maybe setting a later starting date for the '20/'21 season. Depending on the development of the pandemic in general, the worst-case scenario is for the season to be canceled. That's not likely due to the financial implications.
What are the financial implications?
As you remember, Daryl Morey's tweet caused issues with China and that had significant financial ramifications and the projected cap numbers for next season. That was only about the Chinese TV deal, we are talking about all arena revenue and the US TV deal here. Here's ESPN's insider Bobby Marks breaking down the math.
“A scenario in which the remainder of the regular-season schedule were played without fans could cost the league an estimated $500 million in BRI, even before the playoffs.
Remember, we have already seen the cap drop from $116 million to $115 million in 2020-21 as a result of a projected reduction of $200 million or more in revenue from China.”
Marks added that the CBA allows for player salaries not be paid in case of an epidemic, adding the incentive for players to accept a solution that would maximize the number of games played once the season is back on track.
When will we know more?
The NBA was ready to make a quick decision in a case like this, and teams were instructed to develop several plans for different scenarios. We expect to get more information on what the next moves will be within the next 24 hours. Whatever that news may be, NBA games in May would be a great outcome. We will be posting regular updates on all relevant information in our new "Coronavirus" category, and on our Facebook and Instagram pages.