The NBA and Players Association, directed by Michele Roberts, spent three days last week in deep conversations over social justice, basketball and everything in between.
Following a league-wide boycott started by the Milwaukee Bucks, players demanded that tangible progress be made towards fixing injustices in the United States. This came with the threat that — should they not contribute — they would sit out the remainder of the season.
It led to a three-point agreement between players and the league, clearing the way for the playoffs to resume. From all perspectives, it felt imperative to figure out a way to continue playing games, as a cancellation of the 2020 NBA Playoffs would have devastating financial implications.
This is what Roberts attempted to warn players about when discussing the future of the league if the boycott were to continue. She did not hesitate to bring up a potential lockout, cautioning it could come to fruition even if finishing the season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Sources said NBPA executive director Michele Roberts informed players that even if they finish out the season, they will have lost salary this season, but it was anticipated. Should they not finish the season, the financial losses would be greater and the difficulty rises toward the collective bargaining negotiations. Roberts also told the players that simply because they finish the season does not mean a lockout would not happen, that too much still must be sorted out, sources said. Among players this week, there has been increased conversation about the potential of a lockout after the season.
Luckily, the remainder of the season will continue as planned, which slightly decreases the possibility of a lockout. However, given the immense financial hits players and the league will have to take, it doesn’t remove the chance entirely.
Had the players chosen to end the season, a lockout would have been imminent, as the force majeure clause would have kicked in, effectively ending the current CBA.
Several plans being considered for 2020-21 season
The NBA — despite the negotiations that will need to happen — is already looking into plans for next season. Given that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will not be over by December, the league will need to be creative.
One of the plans being reportedly being considered involves starting the season as late as March and going through October, taking a multi-week break in the middle of the year for the 2021 Olympics.
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