Silver Remains “Optimistic” That Season Can Be Saved

During an interview tonight with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver expressed hope that the current season can be completed in some form, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. While he admitted it’s way too early to guess when that may happen or what it might look like, Silver isn’t ready to talk about a cancellation.

“I’m optimistic by nature,” he said. “I want to believe we can salvage some form of the season.”

The commissioner said he discusses the situation every day with medical experts and Michele Roberts, executive director of the players union. He has also conducted conference calls with the owners to brainstorm possible solutions. Scenarios that have been discussed include resuming the season under normal conditions, playing the games with no fans in the arenas, or a one-time charity event involving players who have tested negative for the coronavirus.

“A third option that we are looking at now … the impact on the national psyche of having no sports programming on television,” he said. “And one of the things we’ve been talking about are, are there conditions in which a group of players could compete — maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just the collective good of the people — where you take a subset of players and, is there a protocol where they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way, and they could compete against one another? Because people are stuck at home and I think they need a diversion. They need to be entertained.”

ESPN recently reported that mid- to late June is the earliest realistic date that games can begin, and Silver said the league will be ready “when public health officials give us the OK.” He also indicated it’s possible that the current hiatus could lead the NBA to make changes to its future schedule.

Silver admitted that the country’s view of the coronavirus has evolved quickly since the decision was made to suspend operations seven days ago after Rudy Gobert tested positive. The league has ordered testing for eight teams since then, and six other players have registered positive tests.

“It was a larger decision than just the NBA,” Silver said of the shutdown. “… I think it got a lot of people’s attention.”

He identified Gobert’s test as a turning point for the league, saying it was a “split second” decision to call off last Wednesday’s game between the Jazz and Thunder. A game later that night involving the Pelicans and Kings was also postponed because one of the officials had worked a Utah game earlier in the week.

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