Basketball

NBA hiatus could be longer than 3 months, says report

The current NBA season – on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic – could be suspended for at least three months, ESPN reported on Sunday (March 15).

Per the report, owners and executives are bracing for the possibility of mid-to-late June – a time when, in a normal year, the NBA Finals would typically be over – being the best-case scenario for play to resume.

When the season was suspended on Wednesday, about a month’s worth of regular-season games remained. The postseason typically runs from mid-April through early-to-mid June.

Fears exist that the season might not resume, but the league is considering a variety of creative options for a possible return, ESPN reported.

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending on Sunday that gatherings of 50 or more people should be avoided for the next eight weeks, one plan could involve a return without fans at games, perhaps even playing games in smaller venues like team practice facilities and a different television experience.

The report added that teams are exploring the availability of venues through August for the play-offs and that a financial report is expected to be presented to owners soon. That report would include projections on expected revenue that would be lost if cancelling the rest of the season, resuming at some point without fans or holding the play-offs without fans.

Meanwhile, The Athletic reports the league has informed teams that players can begin travelling outside of their home market beginning on Monday, with the requirements that they provide their whereabouts, remain at home and practice social distancing.

According to a separate ESPN report, the league extended its ban on team practices indefinitely, though players remain allowed to work out at team facilities on their own.

Earlier on Sunday, ESPN reported that the G League, the NBA’s minor-league system, is expected to have the remainder of its season cancelled.

The NBA was the first major sports league in America to suspend its season, doing so on Wednesday after news emerged of Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the virus. All other leagues in the US have quickly followed suit. – REUTERS

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