As the NBA searches for contingency plans to play out at least some remaining portion of the 2019-20 season, a new report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN shows league owners are considering scheduling perhaps a handful of regular season games and cutting back playoff series in the early rounds to five games.
In addition, the league is raising its credit line from $650 million to $1.2 billion in response to the growing outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States. Owners, after a call with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, are still holding out hope that they could resume play by June at the earliest.
Wojnarowski reports teams are hoping soon for a “drop-dead date” that would be the furthest-out deadline for resuming the 2019-20 season, though the NBA is hesitant to “lock itself into a scenario.” There is, of course, considerable risk in even resuming games without fans — one of the scenarios the NBA is considering, alongside shutting down completely — based on what we know about the extreme level of contagion of COVID-19 and the fact that already, so many asymptomatic athletes have tested positive.
The NBA likely understands these risks, which is why they not only have etched into stone their plans, but also are trying to find out from a timing perspective what is workable. Next season’s timeline would also be jeopardized by nearly any format of a postponement. For now, raising the credit limit will allow teams to continue to pay teams and staff, allow players to work out individually as much as possible, and keep planning.