Report: NBA eyes mid-June return, with no fans, as best-case scenario amid coronavirus crisis

It could be a long time before we’re seeing NBA games again. And even longer if we want to see them in person.

[ Coronavirus: How the sports world is responding to the pandemic ]

As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not holding events of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks, a group of NBA owners and executives believe the best-case scenario for the league is a mid-June return date with no fans in attendance, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The league is also reportedly scouting for possibly arena dates through August, signaling we might be looking at a delayed NBA Finals.

The NBA has previously announced that it would reevaluate its hiatus in 30 days.

Additionally, Wojnarowski reports that the NBA will soon provide financial projections to owners on lost revenues based on three different scenarios:

  • shutting down the season

  • re-starting the season no fans

  • playing postseason games with fans

Whatever happens, the losses will reportedly be reflected in next year’s salary cap.

For now, the reported working plan is for games to return without fans and in potentially smaller venues. Teams have reportedly been asked to provide the league potential dates at venues like team practice facilities. Such a measure would likely make the sight of a game played in enormous, empty arenas a little less jarring.

NBA tells players they can leave town

In yet another indication that the NBA will be gone for a while, the league has reportedly told its teams that players are allowed to leave their market.

Coronavirus: Don’t expect sports back anytime soon

That expectation of the NBA goes even farther than what the CDC recommended on Sunday.

The statement:

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. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.

Therefore, CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.

Such a measure isn’t a surprise given the spread and pervasiveness of the latest coronavirus outbreak, and you can imagine sports leagues will at least factor in the CDC’s advice before starting up their seasons again.

American sports leagues to suspend or cancel their seasons include the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, PGA Tour, NCAA, and XFL. The most visible holdout remains the UFC.

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 28: A general view of a Spalding game ball used during the game between the Washington Wizards and the New York Knicks at Capital One Arena on December 28, 2019 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Don't expect the NBA back anytime soon. (Will Newton/Getty Images)

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