NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the goal was to begin next season in January with fans in arenas.
National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts, via Shams Charania of The Athletic:
I’m not of the view that we should wait until we think the arenas can open, because this virus, she’s not cooperative at all. She doesn’t like to be told what to do. She’s a woman, I’m convinced of that. I think we have to figure it out — be flexible, be nimble.
Besides gendering coronavirus (especially like that), Roberts is right.
While waiting to maximize revenue with fans in arenas, the NBA would be drawing practically no revenue. It might be better to earn some money rather no money – even if it’s not as much money as hoped.
It’s unclear when it will be sufficiently safe to have fans in arenas. The NBA could wind up waiting for a breakthrough that is many months away. Waiting would also further complicate the annual calendar.
The are ways to play sooner (like regional bubbles). If it becomes safe to host fans, the NBA can always shift back into home arenas.