Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA remains committed to resuming the season but that there is still no timetable for a possible return or even a deadline for canceling the 2019-20 suspended season.
Following the NBA’s board of governors meeting held via video conference Friday, Silver said the league is still not in position to make any decisions.
“Based on the reports that we got from varied outside officials, current public health officials … we are not in a position to make any decisions,” Silver said in a conference call with reporters. “And it’s unclear when we will be.”
Silver outlined several factors that the NBA would need to be able to resume the season, which was suspended March 11 after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz became the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus.
Silver said the NBA is watching to see whether the number of new infections decreases, and is monitoring the availability of testing on a large scale and the path toward a potential vaccine and antiviral drugs. The NBA also is paying close attention to what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is directing on a federal level and what the various state rules are. On top of that, Silver said health care workers on the front lines have to be “taken care of before we begin talking about NBA players or sports.”
“There is a lot of data that all has to be melded together to help make these decisions,” Silver said. “That is part of the uncertainty. We are not even at the point where we can say if only A, B and C were met, then there is a clear path.
“I think there is still too much uncertainty at this point to say precisely how we move forward. I’ll add that the underlying principle remains the health and well-being of NBA players and everyone involved. We begin with that as paramount.”
Silver said all options remain on the table for resuming the season, including potentially delaying the start of next season. He also said the NBA has been listening to all scenarios for how it can resume playing, including having teams isolated and playing without fans.
“We are looking at all those things right now,” Silver said. “I’d say that in terms of bubble-like concepts, many of them have been proposed to us and we’ve only listened. We are not seriously engaged yet in that type of environment because I can’t answer what precisely would we need to see in order to feel that that environment provided the needed health and safety for our players and everyone involved.
“I know it’s frustrating — it is for me and everyone involved that I am not in position to be able to answer the question. … There is still enormous uncertainty around the virus as well. Now there is a lot that is changing quickly and we may be in a very different position some number of weeks from now. But it is why I initially announced at the beginning of April that I felt with confidence we would not be able to make any decisions in the month of April. I should clarify that I didn’t mean to suggest that on May 1 I would be in a position.”
Silver also said the number of NBA players who have tested positive for COVID-19 is “greater than the initial report of seven.” The league would not disclose how many more confirmed cases there are for privacy reasons, but Silver said all players have been abiding by the current stay-at-home protocols.
NBA owners remain steadfast in wanting to find a way to resume the season safely, as Silver said “teams’ financials and our revenue in essence has dropped to zero.”
The board of governors meeting included Dr. David Ho, a viral epidemics expert who was at the forefront of treating the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and Disney executive chairman Bob Iger as guest speakers to talk about the coronavirus impact from their perspectives.
Ho, who has overseen Magic Johnson’s care since the former Los Angeles Lakers star announced he was HIV-positive, told the league’s governors that there remains a lot to be learned about COVID-19.
“To steal a line from Bob [Iger] … he said from his standpoint it’s about the data and not the date,” Silver said.