Report: NBA, union engaged in preliminary talks about reducing player pay if games are canceled

With uncertainly looming around the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA and NBPA are engaged in preliminary discussions on reducing player pay in the event the rest of the season is canceled, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

The two sides are discussing the collective bargaining agreement’s “force majeure” clause that addresses pay reduction in the event of canceled games. It could lead to the league withholding up to 25 percent of player salaries for the remainder of the season, according to the report.

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The NBPA reportedly sent a letter to players on March 13 reminding them of the clause that addresses an event that “makes it economically impracticable for the NBA to perform its obligation” in terms of player pay.

Per Article XXXIX, section 5(a) of the CBA, those events include:

“Wars or war-like action ... sabotage, terrorism or threats of sabotage or terrorism; explosions; epidemics; weather or natural disasters, including, but not limited to, fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornados, storms or earthquakes; and any governmental order or action [civil or military].”

The clause calls for players to lose around 1 percent of their salary for every game not played. Most teams have played 64 or 65 of their scheduled 82 regular-season games.

The NBA isn't yet planning to cancel games, but is talking player pay in the event that games are lost. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
The NBA isn't yet planning to cancel games, but is talking player pay in the event that games are lost. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The cancellation of games would automatically trigger the clause. Discussions have included commissioner Adam Silver, NBPA director Michele Roberts and attorneys for both sides, according to the report.

For now, players continue to be paid as scheduled, and the league is not planning on canceling games as it considers different scenarios for playing out the season. The New York Post’s Mark Berman reported earlier this week that one of the scenarios being floated involves the playoffs being played at a single site without fans and precluded by a truncated version of the remainder of the regular season.

Las Vegas, Orlando, Atlantic City and the Bahamas are among the sites being considered, according to the report.

League executives, including Silver, have already undergone a 20 percent pay reduction, according to an earlier report from Wojnarowski.

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