The NBA took a very small first step towards an eventual resumption of NBA play later this summer or fall by allowing teams to open up their practice facilities for the first time since suspending the regular season on March 12th. The bigger story this weekend though was an extended conference call held by commissioner Adam Silver with members of the NBPA on late Friday. While there was nothing concrete in the call, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com was first to report several revealing nuggets that were confirmed by players in the Q-and-A session. Let's take a closer look at that information and how it could impact the Celtics if the NBA is cleared to resume this summer.
—40 percent of NBA revenue comes from fans in attendance: A significant chunk of lost revenue for the NBA is no surprise but there was some thinking that the NBA’s attendance impact would be a little less significant than other pro sports due to their massive TV deal with Turner/ESPN. Adam Silver’s declaration on his conference call with players indicates that’s far from the case.
That shortfall is going to set the stage for some critical negotiations with the player’s union and the owners for future seasons. There won’t be a huge impact on player salaries for this current year with nearly 70 games already in the books but an entire season without fans in 2020-21 is going to have to result in both sides giving in a lot. The question is where will the burden come from the most?
Will players get a certain percentage of their guaranteed salaries purely based on total league revenue? Will the salary cap take a massive hit next offseason, leaning to hundreds of free agents scrambling with limited money to spend? Will luxury tax rules be adjusted so ownership doesn’t have to face a huge bill for their pending cap commitments? All of these issues will need to be sorted out before the 2020-21 offseason can begin, particularly if fans aren’t expected for some or all of next season.
—The league is focusing on restarting in one or two locations (Orlando, Las Vegas) as opposed to empty arenas around the league: This has been widely reported in recent weeks but makes the most sense for the NBA. Major League Baseball is reportedly considering travel between teams to their own empty stadiums when their season potentially kicks off in July. The NBA is trending towards a more controllable option with all players and league personnel centralized in one or two spots, depending on the conferences.
The lack of a homecourt advantage could be a major factor for the postseason matchups, but it will also allow for the NBA to have quick turnarounds for a regular-season or postseason schedule without having to worry about travel risks or fatigue due to travel. How the league will handle a full resumption of a full regular season from a schedule standpoint will be a fascinating question if coronavirus risks remain just as prevalent heading into 2020-21. At that point, some kind of adjustment based on geography (heavy on division games?) but without the full bubble city control could emerge.
—There will be 3-6 weeks of training camp if the season resumes: This falls in line with what Celtics like Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter said to me and others in the last month. Two NBA teams reopened their practice facilities in the last week and several more are expected to follow suit next week with specific safety protocols in place.
The Celtics are still at least a week off from a potential return to the Auerbach Center since Massachusetts’ stay-at-home order lasts until May 18th but these voluntary individual workouts other teams can hold will not be considered as part of the ramp-up training camp that Silver refers to here. The league is not authorizing any kind of contact between head coaches and players at this point so it appears that the earliest any kind of training camp could take place is June when all teams are authorized to be back in their facilities and necessary increased testing is available for players getting back into contact workouts with each other.
—A fallout plan for a player testing positive during play is emerging: The worry for any pro