On April 1, NBA players will get their regular paychecks.
The April 15 check, however, could get interesting.
Through a memo, the league told teams to pay players on April 1 but is keeping its options open for the next payday on April 15, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
As the coronavirus pandemic paralyzes the NBA and nation, the canceled games and loss of revenue are causing the NBA to leave itself financial flexibility based on the force majeure provision in the collective bargaining agreement.
Force majeure allows for the withholding of 1/92.6 of a player’s seasonal salary per canceled game based upon catastrophic circumstances. The provision encompasses several scenarios including war, natural disasters and epidemics/pandemics. (For the purposes of force majeure, the league considers each team to have played five preseason games, 82 regular-season games and 5.6 playoff games.)
The NBA plans to inform teams and players ahead of the April 15 payment date about the league’s intentions, the memo said.
What this sets up is a negotiation between the owners and players union, with the owners potentially looking to recoup some losses if the season is canceled completely. Obviously, there would be some pushback from the union.
It’s hard to have that negotiation without knowing what the season will look like. The optimistic view has the NBA playing a handful of regular season games upon return, then jumping into a playoffs that runs into July and maybe August. The league desperately wants a playoff run and to crown a champion, however, nobody really knows if any of this season can be salvaged just because nobody knows how the arc of the spread of the novel coronavirus through the United States is going to play out.
The owners are keeping their options open, but when you talk about cutting pay anywhere it gets the attention of the union. This is a situation to watch going forward.