West Coast NBA News Since the COVID-19 Stoppage
Almost a month after the NBA season postponed games indefinitely, Commissioner Adam Silver still did not know much about when the NBA season would or could return.
On a Zoom call earlier this week, Silver said they will not be able to predict or project the league’s return until May at least. That means another month without games.
Silver said there was a notion of 30 days because shutting down the country was not a widespread idea yet. The NBA Commissioner said he knows even less about the Association’s return now than he did when they made the call.
The Commissioner added that they are still listening and gathering info while they place health and safety as the priority. It is still too early to determine anything he said. However, reports also say their is growing pessimism that play does not resume. Speculation for how play resumes ranges from a NCAA like tournament to a best-of-three series.
Nonetheless, the season is paused with the Lakers and Clippers both seeded at the top of the Western Conference. Portland and Sacramento fought to keep their seasons alive as each were both a handful of games out of the eighth seed.
Even the Suns were only six games out of the final playoff seed. The Warriors sat at the bottom of the West but they found silver-linings with Steph Curry returning and a top draft waiting after this year.
What’s been going on with the NBA’s West Coast teams since?
Reports surfaced that two players tested positive for COVID-19, although they are now symptom free after a 14-day quarantine. It still isn’t exactly clear who the players were.
Lakers star forward LeBron James recently said the season getting cancelled would not give his team any closure after all the adversity they already played through. He remains optimistic but also said public health outweighs the NBA season. James is enjoying the time with his family while also working out in secret basketball courts and in his home gym. He also found a new barber.
Late-great Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was also announced as a member of the 2020 Basketball Hall of Fame class. General Manager Rob Pelinka, who was also Kobe’s agent said he is heartbroken Bryant won’t receive the honor in person.
The Lakers also made salary adjustments by asking senior-level personnel to defer 20 percent of their paychecks based off recommendations from financial analysts.
Forward Danny Green called out the Clippers by saying they have to hope to not meet in the playoffs.
The Lakers and Clippers were also one of a number of teams that hosted zoom workouts.
Speaking of the Clippers, owner Steve Ballmer donated $25 million for areas impacted by the virus including Los Angeles.
He continues adding philanthropic efforts to help with emergency response. The Clippers owner also bought the Forum from MSG to move that much closer to building their own arena.
Ballmer’s spending spree is also keeping Clippers players in shape by providing personal workout equipment so they can build home gyms.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he will prepare to play anywhere or any format. They just want to win.
Rivers was also confident his star players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were working hard to stay in shape.
As for the Blazers, guard C.J. McCollum made headlines by estimating how many NBA players live paycheck to paycheck. He later clarified saying he just wanted people to know players are impacted by the postponement of games too.
Fellow backcourt star Damian Lillard also questioned efforts to resume play with the playoffs. Lillard cited that his team was one spot out of the playoffs with about 15 games left. He said they also were getting healthy and held the easiest remaining schedule while the team in front of them faced the toughest remaining schedule.
Among other social media things like a live interview with Ernie Johnson, Lillard also teased a song with Shaq O’Neal. He was named a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics too.
Carmelo Anthony also did an interview with Dwayne Wade on Instagram live. He tasted wine for #MeloMondays.
Portland raised $1.4 million to cover wages for 1,000 arena workers, including $100k from their Super Star.
The Kings took their philanthropy even farther as Vlade Divac, Bogdan Bodganovic and Nemanja Bjelica donated supplies for relief in Serbia.
Other news during the pandemic includes Guard De’Aaron Fox who cut his signature hair. Guard Kent Bazemore battled Steph Curry on IG Live in a golf simulator. Kings forward Harrison Barnes made a brief appearance in the 2k tournament too.
Moving to Phoenix, the Suns might have to play in their old arena, the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Their current home the Talking Stick Resort Arena finishes renovations that remain on track through the COVID-19 postponement.
The Suns also leaned into esports more than most. Their website feature Twitch links and simulation content positioned as events. Mikal Bridges also won the first ever 2k game streamed on radio.
Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton also did well in the 2k tournament as he made the finals in the Players-Only tournament. Booker used gaming to raise over $100,000 by streaming Call of Duty on his Twitch channel.
Finally, Golden State was planning on playing the first game with no fans before all this happened.
That didn’t happen but the Golden State Warriors donated $1 million in funds for Chase Center employees.
Curry and the Warriors also donated meals to kids who will miss two or more meals with school closed.
Steph filled in as teacher for his daughter during quarantine and did an interview with JaVale McGee.
The Warriors star player also held an informative conversation with Anthony Fauci about coronavirus in early March.
Him Draymond Green rode bikes remotely together as well.
More NBA COVID-19 Impact
The impact of the stoppage was estimated at over a billion dollars lost for the NBA after loss dollars from tickets and sponsors. That’s unprecedented in Silver’s tenure which includes growth for the better part of a decade. It could even drop the salary cap for only the third time since it has existed.
Now, reports circulate the NBA wants players to take salary cuts at 50 percent while games are suspended. The NBA Players association pushed back by offering to only cut salaries 25 percent. Either option is in play when the players get their next check April 15th. Players were paid in full thru April 1.
That could change as players lose roughly 1.08 percent of their salary for every regular-season and playoff canceled via the Collective Bargaining Agreement’s “Force Majeure” provision. The reductions could come in salary now or when games resume.
Only 9 players will get 90 percent of their salary paid by April. Players with features including an accelerated six-month payment schedule might still have to pay the money back or get it withheld but they have the cash. All the players in that group are represented by Klutch Sports and Rich Paul, including the Lakers JaVale McGee and LeBron James.
There’s also talk about lowering the salary cap significantly next year. Even if players don’t give back the money the draft class and free agents this offseason would definitely see a reduction in their new salaries.
Otherwise, teams like the Jazz laid off non-basketball staff. Other teams like the 76ers tried to make salary cuts.
The league office reduced base salaries by 20 percent for about 100 top-earning executives.
Players like Zion Williamson and Blake Griffin were just some who donated money for hourly employees who lose work without games played.
The NBA abruptly shut down calling it a hiatus or pause on March 11. A Utah Jazz game was cancelled at tip off after it was discovered two players tested positive for COVID-19. Those players turned out to be Rudy Gobbert and Donovan Mitchell.
Both players illustrated the virus could infect healthy young people but also symptoms and quarantine were not so bad. Reports say those two relationship faced a major fallout despite both players now healthy after the infection.
Of course, the NBA wasn’t the only league that suspended play. The MLB pushed back the start of the season, the WNBA postponed their season, the NCAA tournament got cancelled, the Olympics is pushed back a year and the NHL also stopped abruptly during their season.
All the league’s commissioners joined President Donald Trump on a conference call last week. Silver said it was a traditional conference call just to share updates in hopes the leagues would return to TV at some point.
Silver said on the call with the president, he hopes the leagues will help restart the economy.
For now, it looks like we just have H-O-R-S-E competitions to look forward to in terms of NBA competition.