The NBA made an unprecedented move to suspend the season Wednesday night until further notice because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has left many more questions than answers at this point.
Will this season be completed? How long will the break be? What will this mean for the NBA Draft, summer league and USA Basketball? How will this stoppage affect the salary cap for the 2020-21 season? What will the refund policy be for tickets to potential unplayed games?
One thing is for sure, it’s certainly a fluid situation that will continue to evolve in the coming days and weeks.
The Miami Heat arrives to this stoppage in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with a 41-24 record following Wednesday night’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets at AmericanAirlines Arena. But that result was secondary to the league’s decision to suspend play.
“I found out as I was walking to the locker room,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said immediately following the game. “Our locker room is still stunned. This is a very serious time right now.
“I think the league moved appropriately and prudently, and we’ll all just have to monitor this situation and see where it goes from here. But I think this indicates where everything is right now and what we talked about yesterday, the day before, before the game. It remains the same, but now it’s heightened even more, our level of vigilance and we just have to sit back and observe and monitor the situation. But I think the league acted, like I said, appropriately to this.”
Here’s what we do know about the NBA’s situation at the moment ...
▪ The league’s decision to suspend the season came after a Utah Jazz player preliminary tested positive for the coronavirus, which forced the cancellation of Wednesday’s Jazz-Oklahoma City Thunder game just before tip-off at Chesapeake Energy Arena. According to reports Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the player who tested positive.
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In addition, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to ESPN, players the Jazz has faced within the past 10 days are being told to self-quarantine. In those 10 days, Utah has played the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors.
▪ The NBA said in a statement that it “will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Here are the big questions that still need answers ...
▪ Q: How long will the stoppage last?
A: This is still the big unknown. It will last at least two weeks, as affected players, coaches and staff go through quarantine. But that’s at the short end of the timetable, as it will likely extend beyond that.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday night on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” that the stoppage “will be, most likely, at least 30 days.” The 30-day mark is April 10, which is the final week of the regular season on the original league schedule.
The cancellation of the NBA season hasn’t been ruled out yet, but Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN on Thursday morning that he doesn’t expect the season to be canceled. Cuban believes it will just be postponed, adding that he could envision games being played as late as August this year.
One possibility is resuming the season, and getting right into the playoffs. Many of the 16 playoff teams have already been determined, with the No. 8 Orlando Magic holding a 5.5 game lead on the No. 9 Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference and the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies holding a 3.5 game lead on the No. 9 Portland Trail Blazers, No. 10 New Orleans Pelicans and No. 11 Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference.
▪ Q: What will NBA teams do in the meantime?
A: There is little clarity on this, as of now. Cuban said Wednesday night the league is allowing teams to continue to practice.
But as of Thursday morning, that was still being worked out. Heat players are encouraged to stay in South Florida to avoid travel and remain prepared for the possibility of the continuation of the season.
According to a league source, teams are not allowed to hold group practices, meetings or workouts through at least Monday. But facilities will remain open for individual workouts.
▪ Q: How will this affect the NBA salary cap for the 2020-21 season?
A: This really depends on if the league is able to finish this season, and how many games are able to be made up once/if the season continues.
The salary cap for 2020-21 is projected to be $115 million. If the NBA is able to finish the season, especially with fans able to attend games, it would help prevent a significant drop in next season’s salary cap.
▪ Q: Will players continue to be paid?
A: Probably. But there is a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that would allow the league to not pay players for missed games because of certain events, including an epidemic.
▪ Q: What will this mean for the NBA Draft, summer league and USA Basketball?
A: This is up in the air. It all depends on how long the stoppage lasts.
The 2020 NBA Draft is scheduled for June 25, Las Vegas Summer League action begins in July, and USA Basketball is scheduled to begin the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in late July.
▪ Q: Will fans be refunded for unused game tickets due to the stoppage?
A: The league-wide policy on this is still to be determined.
But as of now, there will be no refunds for season-ticket holders because the hope is the games will be played at some point.
As for individual game tickets, the NBA is working directly with Ticketmaster to figure out what can be done for fans who are unable to attend rescheduled games.
▪ Q: What about other events at AmericanAirlines Arena?
A: The office of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a statement suspending all major events at AmericanAirlines Arena. Events that have been postponed at the arena through April 1 include a March 12 Aventura concert, Disney On Ice on March 19, 20, 21 and 22, a March 24 Cher concert and a March 29 Ricardo Montaner concert.
Tickets purchased for any of those postponed shows AmericanAirlines Arena will be honored for the rescheduled dates, which are still to be determined. Refunds will be available at the original point of purchase.
A statement from arena officials said: “Alongside the NBA, the Miami HEAT and AmericanAirlines Arena will continue to closely monitor this situation and consult with health officials at the local, state and federal level to determine next steps for future games and events.”
HEAT POSTPONED FAMILY FEST
The Heat has postponed Family Fest, its annual charity event featuring fan interaction with players and team officials and a wide assortment of food. This year’s event had been scheduled for March 21 and unlike past years, was slated to be held in Wynwood, not outside AmericanAirlines Arena.
This story was originally published March 12, 2020 1:42 PM.