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Options for the NBA Following the Coronavirus Outbreak

There has been worldwide panic over the outbreak of the Coronavirus, as the disease has officially been listed as a pandemic by the CDC. The virus is spreading like wildfire and has affected nearly every aspect of life.

From schools and colleges closing, to people unable to go to work, and all the way up to Wall Street, the Coronavirus is truly affecting everything. The economy is suffering terribly, and it was only a matter of time before the sports world became affected by the biggest scare to the world in nearly a century.

On March 11th, two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for the Coronavirus. This later resulted in All-Star teammate Donovan Mitchell to be diagnosed with the same virus the following day.

This entire ordeal caused the NBA to go into panic mode and immediately suspend all play indefinitely. Coronavirus is an illness that does not show symptoms right away, so all the teams that Jazz played over the last few weeks, such as the Knicks, Celtics, Raptors, and Pistons, are at risk.

The NBA decided to stop play throughout the league to prevent anyone else from potentially getting infected. The NBA suspending their season also caused a domino effect throughout sports. The NHL, MLS, MLB, PGA Tour, and numerous other sporting events, including the wildly popular March Madness, soon followed suit in the NBA’s footsteps and either canceled, postponed, or suspended play for the time being.

For the NBA, they were in the midst of a very competitive and successful season, and they have some decisions to make on how they can resume with the season heading forward.

  1. Go directly to the playoffs in April/May

Assuming the best-case scenario occurs and the global pandemic cools down over the next month, then the league can resume with minimal consequences. Adam Silver announced in a statement Thursday March 12th that the league hopes to return to the court in around 30 days if the state of the nation is stable and under control.

If this is the case and all teams are able to resume playing by mid-April, then the league should have them quickly finish off the regular season and then go directly into the postseason. Enough games have been played where the current teams in the playoffs would most likely be the ones that make it anyway other than a few exceptions.

The only complaint teams would have is playoff positioning; however, most teams will probably be thrilled to just be playing. Back in the 2011/2012 lockout season, the league had every team play 66 games and because the majority of the teams have played just a few games shy of that number, they can have each team reach the same number of games and then enter right into the playoffs.

This situation would make the playoffs scheduled around their normal calendar time and then the league would be able to reset next year with nearly a full off-season.

2. Push the season back to the summer

There is a high chance that the Coronavirus will take months to eradicate. In that case, the NBA may be forced to go on hiatus for an extended period of time. The league can choose to take two to three months off and then finish out the regular season and playoffs fully, but it would just push through the summer.

This would result in a shorter off-season and possibly even delaying next season. Along with that, it would interfere with the Tokyo Olympics if they are not canceled. Players would need to choose between playing for their country or with the professional team that pays their salaries, and this would likely result in depleted rosters on both ends of the spectrum.

The only silver lining with this situation is that players coming off major injuries would have the potential of playing or returning this season. Teams like the Brooklyn Nets would benefit greatly from the extra time as All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would likely be able to suit up after being ruled out for the season during the traditional schedule.

Also, if the Coronavirus continues to circulate for the next few months, the league will probably start out the games playing without fans in the stands. Getting a return on investment for the league will be more difficult if they delay the season, but more manageable then if they shortened the season.

3. Suspend season completely

One choice that the league wants to avoid at all costs, but might have to endure, is suspending the rest of the season permanently. This would be if the Coronavirus outbreak is unable to be contained to manageable levels. The consequences in terms of financial implications and basketball issues would be dire.

The league would clearly lose a significant amount of profits if all the remaining games and playoffs are not played, but basketball wise, there would be tons of other issues. First off, the teams that sit at the top of the standings like the Bucks, Lakers, Clippers, and Celtics would all lose the chance to compete for a championship.

Also, the awards given out would be a whole mess too because there would be twenty-plus games that have not been played and races like the MVP one between Lebron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo would be halted.

Ending the season would essentially throw all the progress made this season away and everyone would have to start from scratch next year. Of course, if the world is in need of recovery, this can be a very real possibility.

It is unknown what the future holds ahead, but we can only hope that this virus gets better and everything can safely return to normal soon.

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