NBA weighs next moves while season is put on hold

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DESPITE not yet knowing exactly when his sport will return to action, National Basketball Association (NBA) commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN on Wednesday that the league is considering several scheduling options depending on how long the coronavirus pandemic shutdown lasts, including a potential charity game.

In a nationally televised interview, Mr. Silver opined on how the league could best handle its eventual schedule once games are again deemed safe enough to play.

Among the considerations include the safety benchmarks for restarting the league again with fans as normal, how to play games “and operate as we’ve known it with 19,000 fans” in league venues without concern of spreading the virus.

Mr. Silver admitted perhaps it would be better for games to begin first without fans, so as not to overreach and possibly endanger fans, players and league personnel before being completely certain the coronavirus would not be spread.

“Because, presumably, if we had a group of players, and staff around them, and you could test them and follow some sort of protocol, doctors and health officials may say it’s safe to play,” Mr. Silver said.

Silver then brought up the idea of a charity game, one that would not affect the regular season, in order to raise funds while proving a respite for those itching for a welcome distraction from recent events.

“One of the things we’ve been talking about are,” Mr. Silver said, “are there conditions in which a group of players could compete — maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just the collective good of the people — where you take a subset of players, and is there a protocol where they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way, and they could compete against one another?

“Because people are stuck at home, and I think they need a diversion. They need to be entertained.”

Silver openly shared that all ideas are on the table these days since the league suspended its regular season last Wednesday, even potentially pushing the annual league calendar to December through August instead of October through June, as some have suggested.

Among other topics, Mr. Silver defended the eight NBA teams that have been tested for coronavirus — saying they were simply following orders from health officials, not getting special treatment despite so few tests being readily available.

He also said it was premature to reveal any specifics over the fates of end-of-season awards — such as MVP trophies, scoring titles, etc. — if the league fails to resume its 2019-20 regular season.

Mr. Silver seemed more concerned with the next steps for the league on the floor and how the NBA could help the nation make a move toward normalcy.

“As I look at the options, maybe we can do this incrementally, and the first step isn’t games with thousands of people in the arenas, but maybe it is just games,” Mr. Silver said. — Reuters