NBA commissioner Adam Silver is hopeful that the league will return to finish this season. The question is when, and based on that timeline, in what capacity?
“I’m optimistic by nature,” Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Wednesday. “I want to believe we can salvage some form of the season.”
Nichols asked if the league did return, if they would finish off regular season games or go straight into the playoffs. Silver admitted the league is at the mercy of this outbreak subsiding.
“I honestly don’t know just because I don’t have a good enough sense of how long a period this is going to be,” Silver said. “I mean even the fact that we were using the word ‘hiatus’ just a week ago, sort of the implication was a short amount of time. I think I said last Thursday, not less than 30 days, just to give guidance to teams and players. But at this point I really don’t know.”
The commissioner made it apparent that the league is considering all options. He discussed playing games without fans, restarting the season when it’s safe for spectators to attend, playing limited games as fundraisers to provide entertainment for fans and even permanently shifting the league’s schedule to start later.
“We’ve talked about play-in tournaments going into the playoffs. You know, there may be other things we can do with the format,” Silver said.
Silver stressed that the league’s priority to return to play isn’t about money, considering the relatively short average careers of NBA players.
“(NBA players) are going stir crazy,” Silver said. “They want to play. They want to compete. Players, as you know, unlike a lot of us in our positions, we can just go back to what we were doing. But every player, I mean, is fighting something that’s un-winnable and that’s the aging process. So a lost year or a lost portion of a season in their careers is very different than other people. So we are going to try by every means we can to play basketball again, but you know, I’d say the safety and health of our players is first and our fans, which is why I don’t want to speculate more than that. That will be the condition upon which we can play, when public health officials give us the OK.”
Providing some hope, in response to a question about the rest of the season being lost and what that would mean for records and league awards, he had an honest answer.
“I’m not there yet. Maybe I’m in denial, but I’m just not there yet.”
Silver made sure to say he’s open to all suggestions.