The National Basketball Association is already thinking about how it could rescue its season, and a revised tournament in Las Vegas leading to the finals could be its answer, assuming it’s safe to start playing again.
After being the first U.S. league to suspend games due to the coronavirus outbreak, the NBA is hoping to salvage revenue, which The Washington Post reported could total $1 billion in losses.
In his interview with ESPN last week, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he wants to “believe we’re going to be able to salvage at least some portion of the season.”
According to NBA executives and agents who discussed the matter with CNBC on condition of anonymity, the league remains focused on a return after suspending operations following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. Las Vegas has emerged as the best location to resume the season, according to league executives.
If the season can’t resume, the NBA will need to consider the revenue consequences of a canceled season and how it will affect players’ salaries, which are tied to games being played.
“The players are going to experience a fair amount of salary pain,” said Richard Sheehan, a professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
Longtime sports media and marketing guru Tony Ponturo, the CEO of Ponturo Management Group, said he expects Silver to patiently examine all options before deciding the NBA’s next step.
“Adam will not rush it,” said Ponturo, who spent 17 years as Anheuser-Busch’s vice president of global media sports and entertainment marketing. “I think he’s one person that will keep doing the right thing even if that means a financial hit for a year.”