NBA to Decide If Season Will Resume Within the next Four Weeks

The NBA will reportedly take the next four weeks to decide whether it will resume play this season, but there is increasing optimism basketball will return this year, despite the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The season has been suspended since March 11, when Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert became the first player to test positive to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a call with the NBA's Board of Governors during which he outlined a timetable for a decision to be made over a possible resumption. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Silver told the Board of Governors he was aiming to make a decision over the next two to four weeks, while ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski suggested the commissioner left the virtual meeting feeling increasingly confident the season will resume.

On the call, Silver and the board of directors discussed different health and safety concerns and the commissioner indicated even a player testing positive would not be enough to force the league to suspend the season for a second time.

If a player testing would "shut us down, we probably shouldn't be go down this path," he was quoted as saying.

Widespread testing has been a major stumbling block for professional leagues looking to resume. Health officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force, have repeatedly stated widespread testing are non-negotiable for leagues aiming to return to action.

NBA teams are currently allowed to use different tests at the moment, but Silver indicated the league would set out a protocol for all 30 teams which, among other things, will standardize tests for all the franchises.

The issue around widespread testing is two-fold. While the NBA needs teams to regularly test their players and personnel, it is also mindful of the image that will portray at a time when tests for the general public in the majority of the 50 states.

In March, New York City mayor Bill De Blasio criticized the Brooklyn Nets for testing all their players after it emerged four individuals—including Kevin Durant—had tested positive to COVID-19.

"Tests should not be for the wealthy, but for the sick," De Blasio tweeted.

Crucially, on the call league executives were reportedly not confident widespread testing would become available within the next month.

While Silver indicated a decision over whether the league will resume will be made over the next four weeks, details over the locations and the format remain sketchy.

The NBA is considering plans to have teams play in selected hubs across the country, such as Las Vegas or Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Both locations boast the facilities needed to play games and the number of hotels to keep players isolated for the general public for however long it takes to complete the regular season.

In terms of which format the season would follow when and if it returns, Silver indicated no decision had been taken yet. Over the weekend, the NBA commissioner said he hoped the remainder of the regular season could be finished and that the playoffs could follow their traditional format.

While resuming proceedings in selected hubs would allow the NBA to play numerous games on the same day, finishing the regular season and playing out the postseason in its traditional format—with eight teams per conference playing seven-game series in each round—would take a considerate amount of time.

Should the league follow such format, the NBA Finals could be played well into the summer as opposed to their traditional early June slot.

Meanwhile, according to the Associated Press, NBA players are overwhelmingly in favor of returning to action at some point this season.

Citing an informal poll carried out by the National Basketball Players Association, AP reported that players were not only determined to compete in the playoffs but were willing to conclude the regular season too.

"Everybody in the league, we want to finish this year," Cleveland's Larry Nance Jr. was quoted as saying.

"One, obviously because we love the game, but at the same time there's a serious chance of us missing out on, what, 20-plus percent of our contracts, which is for a lot of guys pretty significant."

As of Wednesday morning, almost 1.37 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., by far the highest tally of any country in the world. Over 82,300 deaths have been recorded in the U.S. and over 230,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

More than 291,900 people have died globally since the outbreak of coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There have been over 4.26 million confirmed cases globally.

NBA, Adam Silver
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media during a press conference at the United Center on February 15 in Chicago, Illinois. Stacy Revere/Getty