News of financial consequences is starting to trickle down. If no regular-season games were played and the season just moved on to the playoffs, it would incur a loss of around $500 million. The playoffs bring in at least $500 million more. That’s a billion dollars worth of motivation to play as many games as possible.
We’re still on the rising part of the curve with COVID-19; the United States is at the top with most people infected in the world (more than China). Until the League Office has any sense of when any sort of games could be played, all it can do is develop contingencies for all scenarios, and we are learning the most likely development is a Las Vegas tournament. The fastest scenario means no fans, teams in one city to eliminate travel, and Las Vegas with its Summer League is the best case study for that. Here’s how it would work.
“The NBA could decide to cancel the remainder of its regular season and create a play-in tournament for lower-seeded teams to enter the postseason. The league could then set up a best-of-five series for the first round, before moving to a one-and-done tournament to determine the two teams that will play in the NBA Finals, which would also be a best-of-five, people familiar with the planning said.”Jabari Young, CNBC
The setup of the tournament is fluid and depends on the potential date when something like this could start. In general terms, it seems a play-in tournament would most likely happen and then some sort of shortened series/one-and-done combination for the Playoffs. This way, the NBA would salvage as much of the PLayoffs as possible and try out some of the suggestions Adam Silver had at the beginning of the season.
One of the main issues here is TV money. Local TV deals make money on the regular season, while national TV partners make most of their revenue on the Playoffs. This plan would significantly impact the local TV partners each team has, so the NBA would probably offer to add one more year to their existing TV deals at the same price.
Whatever happens, we know the revenue’s been significantly reduced, and that will impact the team’s salary cap in the following seasons. It is likely renegotiation of the CBA will be necessary, and everyone will need to take a pay cut. This will also open up the possibility to change the NBA schedule and agree on Silver’s suggestions from the beginning of the season that can be tested this summer. Later start, shorter regular season, play in tournament, shorter first playoff round. These are challenging times, but the NBA can come out of it a stronger, better league.