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Despite pandemic concerns, financial need driving NBA re-start in Orlando

NBA Board of Governors approves competitive format to restart 2019-20 season with 22 teams returning to play, the league announced 6/4/20, citing a tentative start date of Friday, July 31:
The NBA is working to finalize a comprehensive season restart plan with the National Basketball Players Association. The NBA and the NBPA are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices. The season restart is also contingent on an agreement with The Walt Disney Company to use Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, as a single site for a campus for all games, practices and housing for the remainder of the season.
The 22 teams include the Brooklyn Nets but not New York Knicks.

What about next year?

That would change the cycle for the next season:
If, as tentatively scheduled, the season resumes on July 31, then the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery would be rescheduled for Aug. 25, the 2020 NBA Draft would be held on Oct. 15 and the 2020-21 NBA regular season would likely begin on Dec. 1, 2020.
Would games be played at the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden? Maybe, but with fans? If no fans were allowed, might the NBA consider concentrating games in cities where fans were permitted to attend? Or would they go back to another "bubble"?

Pending questions

Before the announcement, Henry Abbott of TrueHoop wrote This is the time for leadership, citing the NBA's lack of candor about the coronavirus crisis or even regarding the killing of George Floyd and subsequent worldwide protests.

Of Commissioner Adam Silver, he writes:
His one signature moment of that press conference, for which he was roundly praised, was to declare that the decision to reopen would be about “the data and not the date.”
That’s looking iffy now. We got a date without any data, evidence, or explanation of any kind.
A few hours after Shams’ [Charania's] tweet [about the season restarting] on Friday, I sent the NBA 20 questions asking about the data. The call to reopen is summoning thousands of people into high-contact, close-quarters, heavy-breathing, indoor work in the middle of a pandemic. Some of them are millionaire 20-year-old athletes with the finest healthcare in the world. Others are 60-plus-year-old coaches or Disney food servers. Some have complex health histories.
Abbott didn't get any answers, including to such things as "What if someone coughs on the court?" and "Does the NBA or its teams accept none, some, or all risk of employees getting the coronavirus while working in the NBA?"

Well there are protocols, as noted by NetsDaily, citing the National Basketball Players Association, including:
  • Coronavirus testing every day; minimum seven days of quarantine for a player who tests positive
  • Players and family must stay inside the ‘bubble;’ families can enter after the first round
  • If a player contracts the virus, the NBA says they plan to continue playing

The bottom line

Still, as Sam Amick wrote 6/4/20 in The Athletic,:
Of course it’s about the money. There are livelihoods affected and real-life impact felt as a result of the financial component, including the career and life experience of yours truly. But it’s fair to say this part loudly, even if the league wishes we wouldn’t: The economics are the driving force here, and any attempt to package these playoffs as some sort of civic service that symbolizes our return to normalcy would be ill-advised. 
...Before the current contract, the league’s TV money was approximately a third of its current rate. So if you’re going to be forced to play games without fans who, according to ESPN, account for 40 percent of the league’s annual revenue (which surpasses $8 billion), then this is how you survive.
Similarly, Marc Stein and Brooks Barnes wrote 6/5/20 in the New York Times:
Getting games back on television thus seems to have much more to do with mitigating financial losses, and players’ lost wages, than ensuring that the N.B.A., for the 74th successive season, crowns a champion.

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