Brooklyn Nets guard and National Basketball Players Association vice president Kyrie Irving has led the charge against finishing the season in Orlando, Florida, at the the end of July with the hope that the focus will remain on addressing racial injustice.
Irving’s message has generated support from several players, including Los Angeles Lakers teammates Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard. Despite questions being raised by the players’ coalition, the NBA still is planning to resume the season at Walt Disney World on July 30.
With that, the NBA and NBPA are agreeing on a plan that would allow players to stay home without any severe consequences. According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski, players can elect to remain home but would miss out on getting paid for games they aren’t present for:
In the NBA and NBPA agreement, players choosing not to join their teams in the bubble will not be penalized by teams, but they will lose payment on games missed — 1/92nd of the money owed them, sources said.
For players who believe they have a medical reason that elevates them into a higher-risk COVID-19 category and want to be excused with pay, the NBA and NBPA have set up an independent doctors panel to evaluate the players and make a determination, sources said. Even if a player is pronounced healthy enough to play without a heightened risk, he is still able to stay home — only without pay, sources said.
NBPA president Chris Paul was reportedly part of Irving’s conference call that consisted of nearly 100 players and expressed his support for them being allowed to make their own choice without getting penalized. However, it also came with the warning that a remaining part of their salaries could be withheld.
While Irving feels that a return to basketball will distract from the efforts that have been made to address racial injustice, there is a faction of players that believe using the NBA’s platform could actually be beneficial for the movement. The prospect of losing out money that they are owed clearly provides some extra incentive to take part.
Meanwhile, the league also put together a panel of physicians to oversee the process of putting an emphasis on ensuring player and staff safety. It appears they may have some authority when it comes to determining which players and staff are allowed to stay home and still get paid from a health standpoint.