The 2019/20 NBA season was suspended almost a month ago, in the middle of March, after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. Initially, the suspension would last 30 days before the league makes a decision on their next steps. There have been rumors of neutral cities hosting the games as an alternative to play out the rest of the campaign.
Well, now all of that could be discarded since the league is reportedly considering canceling the season altogether. The coronavirus outbreak is getting worse in the US and the NBA doesn’t want to take any risk with players, even though fans wouldn’t be allowed in arenas if they resume action.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the league front office is ‘angling’ to reach an agreement with the players union to cancel the season.
"The talks between the players union and the league this week, I've talked to both sides of this issue, and it is clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down," Windhorst said. "Now they don't have to do that yet, and the way they're negotiating they're leaving themselves an option either way, but they're not having talks about how to restart the league, they're having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now."
Windhorst explains one of the reasons why it would be complicated to renew the season is limited testing capabilities, with the league preferring to have a new season next year instead of rushing this one.
"There comes a point where you go too far and start looking at damaging two seasons, and that is what the NBA is trying to evaluate. They do have runway here, I do think that if they had to go into August or September to finish this season, but I'm not sure they feel confident about that right now, and a big factor is testing. We just don't have the testing. At some point not only does there have to be a test that's quick and can evaluate whether or not a player is healthy enough to enter a game, but you have to know whether you have the tests available so you're not taking them away from people who need them, and so right now, that's not here. If in six or eight weeks, if it is here, we can have a different conversation, but the league is preparing for that answer to be no."
Before this, Las Vegas and the Bahamas were considered the two spots to host the rest of the season, but that’s not very viable according to Windhorst. Instead, the NBA is trying to reach an agreement with the players union that recognizes how complex this situation is.
Some people say they were aiming for a return in mid-to-late June. Now the picture doesn’t look that clear and the league could make a big decision regarding the remainder of the 2019/20 campaign.