Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday that he's holding out hope that a portion of the NBA season can be salvaged amid the coronavirus crisis.
"We're gonna try by every means we can to play basketball again," Silver said in an interview with ESPN. "But I say that the safety and health of our players is first, and our fans, which is why I don't want to speculate more on that.
"That will be the condition upon which we can play: when public health officials give us the OK."
The NBA suspended its season indefinitely last Wednesday after Utah's Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19. Since Gobert's positive test, at least six other players have tested positive, including Kevin Durant and three other Nets. The Knicks said they have not tested their players.
If and when it becomes clear that playing games is no longer a health risk, Silver says he and the other NBA owners are looking at three different scenarios to resume the season.
"One is, when can we restart and operate as we've known it with 19,000 fans in buildings?" Silver said in the ESPN interview. "…. Option two is, should we consider restarting without fans, and what would that mean? Because, presumably, if we had a group of players, and staff around them, and you could test them and follow some sort of protocol, doctors and health officials may say it's safe to play.
"A third option that we are looking at now ... the impact on the national psyche of having no sports programming on television. And one of the things we've been talking about are, are there conditions in which a group of players could compete -- maybe it's for a giant fundraiser or just the collective good of the people -- where you take a subset of players and, is there a protocol where they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way, and they could compete against one another?
"Because people are stuck at home, and I think they need a diversion. They need to be entertained."
The league will not play for at least the next two months to follow current CDC guidelines.
Silver on Wednesday said the league would explore different formats in an attempt to resume play.
"I'm optimistic by nature, and I want to believe that we're going to be able to salvage at least some portions of this season," he said. "I would say we have done new and creative things in the past, we experimented with this year's All-Star Game with a unique ending. We've talked about play-in tournaments for going into the playoffs. There may be other things we can do with the format.
"I have heard from a lot of our players ... they're going stir-crazy, they want to play, they want to compete. Players as you know, I mean, unlike a lot of us in our positions we can just go back to what we were doing, but every player is fighting something that's unwinnable, and that's the aging process. So a lost year or lost portion of a season in their careers is very different from other people."
If the season doesn't resume -- or if it starts again in a playoff format -- the Knicks will finish with the NBA's sixth-worst record. That would give them a 9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the NBA Lottery and a 28 percent chance of a pick in the top three. In that scenario, they could slide back as low as No. 9. There is a minuscule chance (.01 percent) that they fall all the way back to 10. New York would have two first-round picks (No. 27 from the Clippers via the Marcus Morris trade) and an early second-round pick (No. 38, via Charlotte).
The Nets would finish the season in seventh place in the East.
Both teams could be looking for new head coaches as well.