Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a lot of talk among NBA players about whether or not they should resume the 2019-20 season. Several factors at play include, COVID-19, the rules and restrictions that come with playing in the NBA’s bubble at Walt Disney World, as well as players who are worried that restarting play will shift attention away from the Black Lives Matter movement that has made huge strides over the past month.
At the same time, the NBA has another growing problem on its hands as new COVID-19 cases/hotspots are popping up all across the country, including Florida, where the league looks to restart play at Walt Disney World.
So, what would happen if the NBA had to cancel the remainder of the season due to players not wanting to play or because of health risks with COVID-19? Here’s a look at the short and long-term consequences that could arise if the season is canceled.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, if the season is canceled, NBA players would lose roughly $1.2 billion in salary, or 35% of their total pay. You can be sure that NBA agents have been giving telling their clients about the financial impact of canceling the remainder of the season.
The league itself, would lose approximately $2 billion in revenue, which would have a significant impact on the NBA’s salary cap over the coming years. Estimates have the salary cap dropping anywhere from $8 million to $15 million if the season gets canceled. This, of course, would hurt a bunch of NBA free agents this year, as well as those in the coming years as well.
If the season were to resume and a player decided not to play, he would lose out on payments for every game that is missed. If players sit out due to a medical issue, they will be evaluated by an independent panel of doctors. If the player’s medical condition puts them in a “higher-risk COVID-19 category,” they would be excused with pay.
Lastly, if a bunch of star players decide to join together and sit out the remainder of the season due to health concerns (COVID-19), or wanting to continue to push the Black Lives Matter movement, the league would likely have no choice but to cancel the season too, creating a massive financial loss for players and the league.
For those who like maps, here is a map of the NBA's proposed Disney set-up via the handbook sent to players today: pic.twitter.com/HTIYQOt5uK
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) June 16, 2020
Loss Of Fans
The NBA’s television ratings have skyrocketed over the last few years and an NBA lockout would crush all the momentum the league has going for itself. The casual fan would be lost just as it was during previous lockout periods.
While the players are fighting for their paychecks and the league/owners are fighting to finish the season, what many are forgetting is what drives the entire league:
With any further delays or cancellations, the league risks losing millions of fans and billions of dollars in revenue. Without watching or attending games, the league risks fans making new new routines, habits or hobbies, or worse, moving their fandom over to another league (NFL, MLB, etc.).
In this day and age, nobody is going to be sitting around waiting as there are so many things that can easily take its place. For the NBA, the time to act is now, or risk losing a significant portion of fans and revenue for the foreseeable future.
If a lockout were to happen, it would likely lead to a canceled or shortened season in 2020-21. This would be a huge blow to the NBA, and fans would surely move on to something else.
Terminating The CBA?
Everything is on the table.
As agents talk to their clients about the short-term impact, the long-term consequences of canceling the season could be far worse.
If enough players don't go, the season will be canceled. The NBA will rip up the CBA and we'll have a lockout. Decisions, right or wrong, have consequences. The stakes of an individual's decision impacts many, many others. https://t.co/sFeWKaH9or
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) June 13, 2020
If the league can not resume play, whether its because of COVID-19 or the Black Lives Matter movement, there’s a good possibility that the owners would terminate the current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and force a lockout.
Of course, if the season is cancelled because of COVID-19, it’s unlikely that the owners would terminate the CBA. However, if it’s for any other reason, you can bet owners will force a lockout, which could very well jeopardize the 2021 season as well. If so, players would lose out on billions of dollars in combined salary.
Any type of live sporting event whether its professional or not, is seeing a big uptick in eyeballs. Heck, evn people rolling marbels and makign videos is getting millions of views as people just want to see live action.
However, some NBA players have argued that if they don’t play in Orlando this year, they’d be missing out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make their voices heard on one of the world’s biggest stages. You can be sure that if the NBA resumes the 2019-20 season next month, millions of people will be tuning in, even if they aren’t basketball or sports fans.
This type of reach and platform could very well help players make their voices heard even more with tens of millions of people likely tuning in.