LOS ANGELES • The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the players association are in discussions regarding withholding players’ pay in the event regular-season games are cancelled, ESPN reported on Tuesday night.
According to the broadcaster, the sides are discussing withholding up to 25 per cent of players’ remaining salaries in a league escrow, allowing for the players and owners to share in some of the financial loss should the league not be able to complete a full, 82-game regular season.
The NBA suspended play indefinitely on March 11, shortly after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert had tested positive for Covid-19.
Since then, at least 10 players have been infected, including two-time Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant, who has yet to play a game for the Brooklyn Nets, although the Los Angeles Lakers said two of their players that had been struck down by the disease had recovered on Tuesday.
The current collective bargaining agreement calls for players to lose roughly 1 per cent of their salary for every game cancelled per a force majeure, also known as act of God, provision – triggered when a contract cannot be fulfilled by an unforeseen circumstance.
A pandemic, like the coronavirus crisis, is among those circumstances. According to ESPN, the force majeure clause is activated once games are cancelled.
The report also stated that NBA commissioner Adam Silver, National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts and a group of attorneys have discussed how to prepare players if they lose money over nixed games. If there is no plan in place by April 15, players will receive their cheques, but would have to pay the money back later should games be cancelled, with the amount owed determined by a formula based on each player’s team and his salary.
The league is trying to avoid a scenario in which it would be forced to pursue payment from players, an impetus behind the sides trying to come to an agreement now.
While the NBA is figuring out how best to proceed, one idea that has been mooted is for the league to shift permanently to a schedule that starts in mid-December with the Finals being played in August.
Damian Lillard is, however, is “definitely not a fan of that”.
“You get to enjoy summer,” the Portland Trail Blazers guard told reporters via a video call. “It’s been perfect for us. So, for that to be changed… I don’t see many guys being a fan of that.”