NBA Said To Be 'Angling' Toward Canceling 2019-20 Season
With the cornavirus pandemic continuing to keep the world on hold, it appears the NBA may be leaning strongly toward canceling the 2019-20 season.
The league and players' union addressed that potential reality this week, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
"It's been a bad week," Windhorst said on SportsCenter. "I think there was optimism about progress a week ago. Some things that have happened this week have turned it south.
"I've talked to both sides of this issue, and it is clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down."
There had been speculation that the league may try to resume play, perhaps as late as mid-July, in a central location in empty arenas. That concept isn't entirely dead, Windhorst suggested. It's just seeming like more and more of a long shot.
"They don't have to (cancel the season) yet, and the way they're negotiating, they're leaving themselves an option either way," Windhorst said. "But they're not having talks about how to restart the league.
"They're having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now."
Pro basketball leagues around the globe have canceled their seasons, with the Chinese Basketball Association being the biggest to eye a possible return to play. But even that has not gone smoothly -- as several targeted restart dates have already been pushed back.
Windhorst said what has happened in China has played a role in the NBA's increased pessimism.
"(China) really believed that if they tested the players' temperature all the time that it would work," he said. "The Chinese are finding that asymptomatic carriers are causing a second wave in that country, and they have slammed the brakes on sports."
On the flip side, should the NBA cancel this season, it would undoubtedly make it easier to start next season on time, or at least closer to on time. Teams generally start training camp the first week of October.
"That is exactly it. There comes a point where you don't want to go too far where you end up damaging two seasons," Windhorst said. "That is what the NBA is trying to evaluate. They do have runway here. ... But I'm not sure they feel confident about that right now.
"A big factor is testing. We just don't have the testing. At some point, not only does it have to be a test that's quick, and can evaluate whether a player is healthy enough to enter a game, you have to know whether you have the test available, so that you're not taking them away from people who need them."
Right now, no such speedy conronavirus test exists.
"If in six-to-eight weeks it is here, we could have a different conversation," Windhorst said. "But the league is preparing for that answer to be no."
Sam Amico covers the NBA and Cleveland Cavaliers for SI.com. Follow him @AmicoHoops.