Any sort of resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season, which has been on pause for two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is weeks, if not months, away. But if some of the biggest names in basketball have their way, whenever it is safe to resume, teams will take the courts somewhere in the country and restart the season.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, a number of the league’s most prominent players held a phone call on Tuesday in which they agreed to a “united front,” one which endorses playing basketball sometime in the future. The call was reportedly arranged by Chris Paul, who serves as the head of the Players Association, and included names like LeBron James and Steph Curry.
Via Yahoo Sports:
Some of the NBA’s biggest superstars formed a united front to resume the 2019-20 season during a private conference call Monday, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Toward the end of the call discussing the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic, all parties were in agreement to take the court with proper safety measures once the league is given the green light to commence, sources said.
Beyond the aforementioned names, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, and Russell Westbrook all participated in the call. This news comes on the same day that Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Paul and Westbrook will be part of a working group comprised of NBA and NBPA members that want to discuss paths forward.
It is hardly the first big call involving prominent players that we’ve heard of in recent days, as NBA commissioner Adam Silver held a call with players that touched on how the league could resume and what its path forward would look like, with Silver mentioning that games would be held in fan-less arenas.
Haynes reported some more details from that call, mentioning that some players were not comfortable with Silver’s proclamation that their safety cannot be guaranteed until a vaccine is discovered for COVID-19, something that is not expected to happen until sometime in 2021 at the earliest. As for what players would want in the event the season resumes, opinions appear to be split.
The majority of players who are essentially eliminated from postseason contention would rather the league start back up with the top eight teams in each conference competing in some sort of playoff, sources said.
For some players out of the playoff picture, there’s concern a canceled season could negatively affect the next CBA, sources said.
The caveat that comes with this united front — that they want the league to resume “with proper safety measures once the league is given the green light” — is interesting, because there is no guarantee that this green light will come any time soon. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said last month that “If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’” Testing, Fauci said, is a key variable, and it is unclear if the NBA will be able acquire enough tests to make it feasible for games to resume.
The good news is that the NBA has plenty of runway to make a decision, as there is no need for them to rush into anything in the coming days. With how frequently things are evolving in what we know about the virus, perhaps the hopes of the NBA resuming sometime in the coming months aren’t a pie in the sky idea. As long as it is safe, the plan will have the support of some of the biggest names in the league.