Commissioner Adam Silver Discusses Season Postponement

by Casey Holdahl
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NBA commissioner Adam Silver joined TNT's Ernie Johnson Monday evening for an interview discussing the current postponement of the 2019-20 NBA season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Silver discusses what he knows (or to be more accurate, what he does not know), the various scenarios regarding when and how basketball might return, the call he was on with the other major sports commissioners and president Donald Trump and the potential changes that might remain in place once society gets back to some semblance of normalcy.

You can watch the whole interview, though a few of the opening remarks have also been transcribed below...

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Do you have any kind of a better feel for where we are?

Adam Silver: The short answer is no. And interestingly enough, I think if you and I on March 12 had been asked that same question, both of us would have said it's hard to imagine that three-plus weeks later, we wouldn't have a better understanding of where we are. And in fact, when we initially shut down -- we were calling it a hiatus or a pause -- there was a notion of 30 days because there wasn't any of the widespread view, at that point, that our country would in essence be entirely shut down over the next several weeks. And so the fact is now, sitting here today, I know less, in a way, than I did then. I think in some ways, just as I listen to the public health experts and the people that are advising us, the virus is potentially moving faster than maybe we had thought at that point, and therefore, may peak earlier. What that means, in terms of our ability to come back at some point in late spring or summer, is still unknown to me. Essentially what I've told my folks over the last week is we should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won't be in a position to make any decisions. I don't think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be, but at least I know, I think just to settle everyone down a little bit, it doesn't mean that internally, both the league and in discussions with our players and the teams, that we aren't looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season, but I think it's honestly too early, given what's happened right now, to be able to project or predict where we'll be in a few weeks.

Is there a date where you say "If it goes to this, we can't finish the regular season, we will just go to playoffs." Are you trying to finish the regular season?

Adam Silver: Honestly, we haven't made any decisions. In a perfect world, yes, we would try to finish the regular season in some form and then move on to the playoffs. But what I've learned, I think initially -- sort of first week, first two weeks -- we were looking at more specific scenarios in terms of if we start this date, what will that mean for the regular season? When would the playoffs begin? When would they conclude? Again, what I've learned over the last few weeks is we just have too little information to make those sort of projections.

I will say though that, as I look out into the summer, there does come a point at which we would start impacting next season. Even there, I think a few weeks ago, nobody thought we were talking about a potential impact on next season independent of what we might choose to do to finish out regular season and playoffs. Again, I think now, because so little is known, we're here, we're ready to go. I don't want to leave the suggestion with anybody that we're not doing everything we possibly can to restart under the right circumstances, but of course, player safety and the health of everyone in the NBA family has to come first. That may mean that there's a scenario in which we can play without fans. That's something we look a lot at. In fact, I think the Warriors were scheduled to play the first fan-less game before we were shutdown, so we were looking at that possibility and thinking what that might mean, how would those games be televised, would we still play in huge NBA arenas or would we got to practice facilities, would we got to a single site. There's been a lot of conjecture about various cities and places that might hold a tournament. We're in listening mode right now, we've been contacted by many of those jurisdictions to ask what our level of interest is and we've talked to them about what their capabilities are. But once again, there's too much unknown right now.

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