The Philadephia 76ers came in early, trying to force 20 percent cutbacks in salaries across the franchise’s staff. That lasted less than 24 hours before the backlash hit, the net worth of the team’s primary owner, Joshua Harris, was trending on Twitter, and the decision was reversed.
That stopped other owners from making a similar move or laying employees off for a while, but not long after the top 100 earners at the NBA League office — including Commissioner Adam Silver — were given a 20 percent pay reduction. The worsening economic crisis caused by the coronavirus shutdown of the United States is pushing NBA owners to act.
On Friday, the Utah Jazz — owned by the Larry H. Miller Group, which in total has more 80 different companies under its umbrella — sent this message to Adrian Wojnarowski ESPN:
“Due to the impact on our customer-facing businesses from this unprecedented pandemic, the (Miller Group) …. unfortunately had to make difficult decisions to reduce a small percentage of our workforce. Over the past several weeks, we have worked to manage and reduce costs, including executive compensation, and have reached a point where we have had to say farewell to a limited number of our valued employees.
“We have connected with our associates with outplacement services and aligned them with employers who have immediate hiring needs. We remain focused on helping our communities stay healthy.”
Reports out of Utah say these are layoffs that hit a lot of people and could be permanent.
It’s not fair, but little is fair right now. As noted, this is not just a layoff of some Jazz employees but also people at other businesses across the Larry H. Miller company.
Expect other NBA owners to follow suit soon, too. Not all, but some. Like owners of businesses of all sizes, they have been both hit hard in the short term and see a looming recession beyond the coronavirus. They will be looking to save money.