NBA
Robin Utrecht/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Report: NBA would lose $900 million in television money if playoffs are canceled

Leave a comment

Optimism remains high in league circles that the NBA will complete this season. Exactly how, where, and what that restart will all look like remain unanswered questions, but within the next month NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to make the call and lay out a plan.

Why doesn’t the league just scrap this season and plan for the next one? There are more than 900 million reasons for that, reports Sam Amick at The Athletic.

The lost national television revenue from these playoffs alone would be approximately $900 million, according to a source who gleaned the figure from one of the many conference calls with Silver recently. If the NBA can’t find a way to play regular-season games, sources say teams will also lose out on regional sports network revenues that require them to air at least 70 games to achieve the financial threshold that is so routinely discussed in league circles.

That 70-game mark is why there remains a push from Silver to bring all 30 teams back and play some regular season games before jumping to the playoffs (each team played between 63 and 67 games before play was suspended). Throw in lost gate revenue at arenas, and the league is going to lose more than a billion dollars due to the coronavirus shutdown (even if there are playoffs)

That revenue loss hits the players, too. On Friday (May 15), most of them got their first check with 25% taken out, part of an agreement between the league and players’ union to help prepare for canceled games and the league exercising the “force majeure” provision in the CBA. The more money lost by the league, the more players are going to feel it in the pocketbook this season and in future ones.

Which motivates players to get back on the court. For the players, it’s a matter of balancing risk and reward — the vast majority want to start play again, but only if it’s safe. How much is too much risk is a personal decision, but one Silver is going to have to find a consensus on.

One other interesting note from Amick’s piece in the Athletic: One way to tighten up the schedule and get in more games is to shorten the training camps before those games tip-off, and that seems to be happening.

In terms of the training component, one source with knowledge of the league’s latest talking points said the time estimates for a training camp have been shortened in recent weeks. Whereas the early discussions involved the possible prospect of needing four or five weeks for camps, the goal now appears to be closer to two or three.

That’s concerning in terms of injury prevention.

“We call it spiking the workloads, you never want to go from zero to 100, that’s when you see a lot of injuries,” one team’s strength and training coach told NBC Sports, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “You’re going to need a slow ramp-up. How slow it is going to be somewhat limited, with everyone wanting to get things going.”

The NBA knows all this, it’s trying to balance all this, and Silver has been clear with owners and players there is no perfect answer, no risk-free decision. He’s looking to find the best of a lot of bad options.

But there are 900 million reasons for him to find a way to make the playoffs happen.

Report: NBA group stage could include 24 teams

Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Bulls guard Zach LaVine
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The initial report on the NBA resuming with a group stage presented a 20-team scenario. There’d be four groups with five teams each – one from each tier of the current standings:

  • Tier 1: Bucks, Lakers, Raptors, Clippers
  • Tier 2: Celtics, Nuggets, Jazz, Heat
  • Tier 3: Thunder, Rockets, Pacers, 76ers
  • Tier 4: Mavericks, Grizzlies, Nets, Magic
  • Tier 5: Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs

Teams would play each other team in its group, and the top two finishers in each group would advance to an eight-team tournament (effectively the second round of the playoffs, though without conference splits).

But that format could apparently include four more teams.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

In brief, per several sources who have seen the league’s proposal: The NBA could take 20 (or 24) teams and divide them into groups

The simplest way to expand to 24 teams would be adding a sixth tier then forming four groups of six. That’d mean adding:

  • Tier 6: Suns, Wizards, Hornets, Bulls

Bleh.

The more games the NBA holds, the more money the league will make. But the more people involved, the more risk of someone contracting and spreading coronavirus. It’s a fine line, and the league has sought a middle ground.

Phoenix, Washington, Charlotte and Chicago strike me as too lousy to include. Those teams are well outside the normal playoff race, and there’s no good reason to believe they would’ve made a late push.

In this environment, they might have shot, though. Coronavirus increases variability. Players have had differing access to resources and differing motivation to train during the hiatus. Once play resumes, positive tests could be scattered randomly. Would anyone view the Suns, Wizards, Hornets or Bulls as deserving of a berth in the eight-team tournament? If one of those four teams qualified, that’d probably just show the setup was flawed.

The fairest way to set the playoffs is with 20 teams, depending on structure. Resuming with just 16 teams wouldn’t be that far behind. The highest financial upside comes with all 30 teams, but that seems infeasible.

Setting the line at 24 teams seems like the worst of most worlds – including four bad teams that wouldn’t generate much interest but would threaten to disrupt everything else.

Michael Porter Jr.: Pray for both George Floyd’s family and police officers involved in ‘this evil’

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. and Knicks forward Maurice Harkless
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Several NBA players posted about George Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer for about eight minutes.

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. struck a different tone than most.

Porter:

Knicks forward Maurice Harkless:

Harkless, whose dismay was shared by many, is a seasoned veteran. Porter has made made rookie gaffes.

But I’m uncomfortable criticizing someone for calling for prayer for anyone. For some, prayer can be effective way to cope amid tragedy. Many believe prayer can change the world.

Porter didn’t say prayer alone should be the solution. In fact, he called the situation “evil” and “murder,” seemingly suggesting the need for criminal justice, too.

Basketball Hall of Fame delays enshrining Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Spurs forward Tim Duncan
Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Basketball Hall of Fame originally planned to induct Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in August.

But coronavirus interfered.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the board of the governors for the Hall, told ESPN Wednesday that enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2020, one of the most star-studded lineups ever which includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant, will be moved to spring of 2021.

Colangelo stressed there will be separate ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, even though both events will now be held in the calendar year 2021. “We won’t be combining them,” he said. “The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration.”

I’m so glad each class will be honored separately. Bryant, Duncan, Garnett and the rest of this class – Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Patrick Baumann – deserve their own night.

So does Paul Pierce and whoever gets selected in the next class.

Life can end at any moment. Bryant’s death was a tragic reminder of that. But there’s no specific urgency here. The Hall of Fame should wait until it’s safe to hold a proper celebration of this class… then the next one.

NBA being sued for missed rent payments amid coronavirus shutdown

NBA Store
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA has been sued by the owners of the building that houses the NBA Store, who say the league owes more than $1.2 million after not paying rent in April or May.

The league responded by saying it doesn’t believe the suit has merit, because it was forced to close the New York store due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBA Media Ventures, LLC is required to pay $625,000 of its $7.5 million annual fee on the first day of each month under teams of its lease with 535-545 FEE LLC, according to the suit filed Tuesday in New York.

The NBA entered into the lease agreement for the property at 545 Fifth Ave. in November 2014.

Counting other fees such as water, the owners of the building are seeking more than $1.25 million.

“Like other retail stores on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the NBA Store was required to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Under those circumstances, we don’t believe these claims have any merit,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to work directly with our landlord to resolve this matter in a manner that is fair to all parties.”

The NBA suspended play on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and faces hundreds of millions of dollars in losses this season, even as it works toward trying to resume play in July.