When Will NBA Start Again? Season Could Be on Hold until June Following CDC Recommendation on Coronavirus

The latest recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to deal with the outbreak of coronavirus that's sweeping across the world could force the NBA season to remain on hold until June at the earliest.

On Sunday, the CDC recommended events attracting over 50 people to be canceled or postponed for at least eight weeks as the U.S. battles with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The move comes after a number of states had already banned gatherings of anywhere between 25 to 250 people.

"Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities," the CDC said in its new guidelines.

Bars and restaurants will be shut in Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois and in Pennsylvania from Monday, while bars, cafes and restaurants in New York City and Los Angeles will also be closed. Schools in the Big Apple will also shut their doors until next month, a measure adopted in over 30 states.

The CDC recommendation extends far behind the 30-day suspension the NBA put in place Wednesday night, when commissioner Adam Silver took the unprecedented decision of halting the season shortly, after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive to coronavirus.

Gobert's teammate Donovan Mitchell and Detroit Pistons forward Christian Wood have since tested positive to COVID-19.

The league is yet to give the 30 franchises a timeline for a resumption of play, largely due to the constantly-evolving nature of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., where the number of confirmed cases as of Monday morning is over 3,700, according to Johns Hopkins University which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

Over 6,500 people have died since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China's central Hubei province, late last year. There are over 169,000 cases globally, with 77,000 recovered.

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, teams have been told to search out arena dates well into August, as well as explore the possibility of playing at smaller venues and practice facilities. It is understood that should the NBA resume the current season at some point, it will do so behind closed doors.

The NBA regular season was expected to end on April 15, with the playoffs due to get underway three days later and Game 1 of the NBA Finals scheduled for June 4. Resuming the season as late as June would present a logistical nightmare for the league, particularly given a number of its top players could be selected to represent their national teams at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, should they go ahead as planned from July 24 until August 9.

As of now, it remains unclear as to whether the league will choose to complete all the regular season games or whether it will work out a contingency plan to go straight to the playoffs instead.

ESPN added Silver has encouraged the 30 owners to be "open to experimental ideas" in terms of scheduling, broadcasting and venues as the NBA copes with the outbreak but the teams are braced for a major financial blow should the season not be completed.

Newsweek has contacted the NBA for comment.

NBA, coronavirus
A general view of American Airlines Arena after the game between the Miami Heat and the Charlotte Hornets on March 11 in Miami, Florida. The NBA announced the season has been suspended after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Michael Reaves/Getty