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NBA taking time to regroup during 30-day minimum suspension due to COVID-19 pandemic

Silver: 'The notion of 30 days is just to try to give people some guidance'

The NBA’s suspension of games — its self-quarantine, if you will, against the spread of the new coronavirus — will last at least 30 days, Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday.

Silver’s comments, in an interview on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” studio show, confirmed an ESPN report Wednesday afternoon that NBA owners had encouraged the commissioner to re-evaluate the hiatus in 30 days.

So the league will be dark until approximately April 9 or April 10, less than a week from the scheduled end of the regular season. That’s the point at which the Silver and the Board of Governors will try to determine when — or if — the 2019-20 season resumes.

“Even if we’re out for six weeks, we could still restart the season,” Silver told the show’s panel of Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and host Ernie Johnson. “The Finals might take place in July, [even] late July.

“The notion of at least 30 days is just to try to give people some guidance,” the commissioner added. “This literally changes hour by hour, as far as what we know.”

Johnson asked Silver if it’s possible the NBA might have to cancel the remainder of its season and the playoffs.

“Of course it’s possible,” Silver said. “I just don’t know more at this point.”

Fact-finding was difficult enough Wednesday, when a teleconference meeting of the Board of Governors served to assess the virus’ impact and the league’s options for coping with it. One planned scenario — staging games without spectators allowed into the arenas to thwart further infection — quickly gave way Silver’s decision to postpone play, after Utah’s Rudy Gobert was discovered to have tested positive for the virus.

The Jazz’s game at Oklahoma City was delayed, then cancelled. A later game Wednesday between New Orleans and Sacramento also was scratched because referee Courtney Kirkland had worked Utah’s game Monday against Toronto.

Another Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell, had tested positive for the coronavirus by Thursday morning.

Charles Barkley, the Hall of Famer who is a fixture on the TNT show, participated by phone. He was sitting out a 48-hour quarantine advised by his doctors after seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms. Barkley shared with viewers that he was awaiting test results for the virus that leads to COVID-19, the pandemic that has seized the world’s attention, rocked the U.S. economy and sparked cancellations across the sports, entertainment and business landscape.

“I haven’t been feeling great,” Barkley said. “I’m just kind of in limbo right now. I’m really hoping it was just a bug.”

A shutdown of 30 days would be enough to alter the quality of play, Smith said, or at least the competition as established over the first 65 games or so in the 82-game season.

“What if this goes to two months? What if it goes to three months?” Smith said. “It changes the complexion of how you think of things. There’s no one who’s going to continue in the exact groove they were. “That would be my number. Thirty days. That ain’t the same team coming back. That’s not the same rhythm they were in.”

Silver said that some of the discussion with the owners focused on the resumption of play, including how players could stay in shape and whether they would be most safe from infection by staying in their teams’ markets during the hiatus.

“All of those things are still on the table,” the commissioner said, “because this has happened so quickly.”

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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