In your opinion, what are the odds that this NBA season can be saved and resumed? In your heart of hearts, what would you like to see happen? What do you think is the responsible course of action — keep following the data or just going ahead and canceling the season?
Kevin Barrios: 25%
I don’t see a realistic scenario for the regular season to resume. The 25% is based purely on the league and franchises figuring out a way to have an abbreviated playoff scenario, but I honestly don’t think that will be able to be worked out either.
I’d like to see the NBA follow the example set by some Euro soccer leagues and just consider the season done. With restrictions being lifted on gatherings in some areas and other cities opening up completely again, there will surely be another spike in infections and death — see the rest of the world. Coaches, staff members, players and their families — especially those elderly staff members and player’s relatives — are all at risk if they are practicing and competing in such confined spaces. Once a single person or a person’s family member tests positive, the whole system will come crashing down resulting in a bigger ordeal than just ending the season now.
As we wait on those play or not play decisions, the offseason is being pushed further into the start of next season causing a whole other set of problems to work out. Playing it safe — while disappointing for sure — seems like the most responsible thing right now. Hopefully, a vaccine, better treatment options and a newer sense of preparedness will rise out of this situation and help us navigate such an outbreak or event in the future.
Chris Conner: 60%
The NBA players and executives have made it very clear that they want to resume action in some capacity. When it’s all said and done, I believe they’ll find a way, whether it’s setting up a bubble in Las Vegas, Hawaii, or Disney World, Preston’s backyard. With the 2020-21 season more than likely starting around Christmas, the decision makers should be able to find a way.
Personally, I can’t fathom safely resuming this summer, which seems to be the target at this point. It seems as if too many people will be a risk in a pandemic that we’re still learning about each day. How do you assure the safety of each essential employee? Can you test each organizational member in time? If one tests positive, is the season back to being suspended or just outright canceled? It just feels as if there are more questions than answers.
If the data is followed in earnest and smart safeguards are in place, I can support a return. But as we stand today, too many people stand in harm’s way to resume anytime soon in my opinion.
Jamile Dunn: 0%
From the very beginning, I felt that the 2019-20 season was over. A current health crisis isn’t something that gives a clear expiration date. I think Adam Silver will acknowledge within the next few weeks that the NBA has no choice but to cancel the remainder of the season.
This isn’t the worst outcome, as it would ultimately relieve the uncertainty and fear for players and all related employees. It would also give the league the necessary time to make preparations for the 2020-2021 season. The NBA and countless of other businesses will likely have to significantly modify how they deliver their products.
There have been many contingency plans bounced around the basketball world including renting out amusement parks or a block of hotels to house the entire league in one place under strict testing guidelines. Implementing such a plan takes time to coordinate the movement of hundreds of people and completely change how games are delivered to television audiences. You’ve got to get it right the first time. Thus, the best option in my opinion is to start that planning now — so you can be ready to install it next season.
Preston Ellis: 75%
Let me preface it with this: There is absolutely no reason to resume regular season play. According to Shams Charania, league office executives anticipate game-play resuming sometime in July and ending in early September. If that is the case, the NBA would have around two months to complete nearly 300 regular-season games in addition to four rounds of playoffs. That math doesn’t work so something needs to be eliminated to stay inside that time frame.
In addition to the illogical nature of forcing otherwise meaningless games into such a tight window, you’d be inviting 30 teams, executives, coaches, essential personnel and families in addition to each roster. That’s thousands of people who would be mingling inside of a bubble and thus exposing them to higher risks of contracting and spreading COVID-19. And this doesn’t even take into account each individual’s needs. For instance, there’s a lot of highly specialized equipment athletes rely on for training and recovery. How likely is it that each player would get the same standard of care they’re used to in a non-pandemic world?
Having said all that, I believe the NBA playoffs will resume to some extent. Spreading the games out over two months and only needing to deal with a significantly smaller population without all 30 teams present seems more feasible. I know we’d all like to see the New Orleans Pelicans make that final run for the playoffs, but there are far more significant concerns than simply battling for the eighth seed. After all, wouldn’t you rather see seven-games series in the first round than watch Minnesota play Charlotte?
Charlie Gonzalez: 10%
Personally I’d slot this season at a 10% chance of resuming and a 1% chance of completing. There are innumerable factors involved at countless levels and while I fully understand the league and players desire a champion, closure, the lost revenue, etc, I just don’t see a reasonable path at this moment for a resumption without a dramatic shift in medical advancements, at least nationwide.
Too many tests are needed for the entirety of the league which would come under the microscope of the public who may or may not have access to testing. Then there are countless precautions that would need to be taken and followed by thousands of individuals wherever the season is resumed. With just one positive test at some point during the event proceedings, you’d be back to contact tracing and quarantine.
Should the country make vast strides within the next two months to increase its capacity to test citizens, then maybe there’s a chance to get things moving. But I’m woefully pessimistic.
David Grubb: 10%
I put the odds of the season resuming at 10 percent because I just don’t see how the logistics of ensuring player/staff safety, conducting a legitimate end to a regular season and the playoffs, and preparing for the 2020-21 season from a scheduling and business perspective can come together in a timely manner.
The season needs to be ended. There’s no equitable way (not fair, equitable) to crown a champion. The optics of more than 15,000 coronavirus tests being needed to play basketball, while millions of Americans go untested are bad. The motivation of teams that have no stake in resuming the season, or teams that have injured players, etc., will be in question, impacting the outcome of the season.
The risks outweigh the rewards at this point and I think having basketball for basketball’s sake isn’t as important as ensuring that the best possible product is ready to go for next season. People will move on. They will forget. Some things are bigger than sports, and this is one of them.
Oleh Kosel: 2%
It’s really going to take a miracle at this point, even for just a playoff-only scenario.
Soon after the pandemic struck our nation, greater hope existed because various theories held more water in a new landscape and there were examples around the world of bringing the novel coronavirus under control. With the United States failing to mitigate timely as a whole and millions of tests still seemingly not available to the general public, it feels impossible to get something as grand as a first-ever professional sports bubble city plan off the ground safely.
The fact of the matter is that too many variables exist and things are not trending in the right direction. For instance, here’s a thought: With experts predicting a rise in cases and deaths through the summer, how would holding a sporting event and players receiving a higher level of care look from an optic’s standpoint in the middle of a pandemic?
Since David Stern became the league’s commissioner and then Adam Silver grabbed the torch, the NBA has made its reputation and image a clear priority. So, let’s say for argument’s sake that Disney World is selected as the host locale and the playoffs are ongoing but Floridians around the bubble are dying at a rate per day that cannot be ignored. Beyond just a bad look, right?
About a month ago, I had plenty more faith in science providing a possible lifeline. That the combination of modern medicine and following proper protocols would have led to preventing the above hypothetical from potentially occurring. That smart decisions made by those in power would have eventually alleviated a lot of the health risks to those living inside and outside any bubble. But that’s not realistic thinking anymore. This country is not on that path. Instead it’s careening on one which would involve asking thousands to assemble inside some house of cards scenario for the sake of entertainment while stepping down hard on public policy. Sigh.
Ben Pfeifer: 60%
If I had to peg a number, I’d put the odds at 60-40 of the NBA season returning at some point. It seems like the majority of owners are hell-bent on continuing, even if that might not be the smartest idea. The league cannot put the health of the players below the level of profits at all costs.