The NBA announced on Friday that it would begin withholding money from players’ checks as early as May 15. This announcement comes after the NBA and the NBA Players Association agreed to a plan, and the NBPA was also a part of this statement. With online sports betting revenues down to basically 0 this quarter, this comes as no surprise.
The plan is that the league will withhold 25% from each player, beginning with the pay period on May 15. All players in the league will receive their full payments for the final time on May 1.
Both sides agreed to create an escrow account where all of the withheld money would be kept until a final decision is made. If the league is able to find a way to finish out the regular season and play all of the remaining games, all of the money would be returned to the players, though, at this point, that seems unlikely.
NBA teams would keep a percentage of the money based on the number of games that are canceled if this was the route that the league was forced to take. There is a force majeure provision in the most recent collective bargaining agreement that allows the league to withhold money if a full season is not played.
Depending on the number of games each team has played up to this point, players could lose anywhere from 23-26 percent of their salary for the 2019-20 season. The NBA and the NBPA have spent the last several weeks trying to come up with a plan, and this was the solution that they agreed upon.
Without this plan, several NBA players could go several pay periods without receiving any money, or the league would be forced to demand payment from players if the rest of the regular season was canceled. Players will now have a chance to budget for the potential loss of income over an extended period.
The force majeure provision is written into the current CBA, and it covers a variety of catastrophic events. Epidemics and pandemics such as the COVID-19 strain would qualify for this provision to be kicked in. Withholding players’ salaries as a result of canceled games will also allow the salary cap and luxury tax numbers to remain close to the same during the 2020-21 season.
Silver: Still No Decision on Return
NBA commissioner Adam Silver also spoke to members of the media on Friday, but his message was one of uncertainty. He continued to maintain that the league is committed to completing the regular season and playoffs in 2020, but there is no timetable for return.
Silver met with the NBA’s board of governors through a virtual call on Friday and announced that there is still too much uncertainty to make any decisions.
The NBA is seeking advice from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention as well as other health organizations as they develop their plan to return to play. Silver has stressed that the league is looking into several different options, with playing games in empty arenas or isolated locations as one of the possibilities.
The league is also waiting on the advancement of testing for the coronavirus, and until that becomes readily available, it is unlikely that there will be a return.
According to sources, NBA players have been told that it could be until June 15 before a decision is made in regards to returning to play. That would be more than three months after the league suspended the regular season on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
Several NBA players from various teams have tested positive for the disease, but all players are now in recovery.