The NBA and National Basketball Players Association are discussing the possibility of withholding up to 25% of players’ remaining salaries in a league escrow if regular season games are eventually canceled and not made up, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Players will be paid on full checks on Wednesday, but they have not been assured further payments, according to The New York Times Marc Stein.
Per ESPN, the NBA continues to be optimistic that the season will resume at some point, but the NBA’s financial future was seemingly made more complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
The league could exercise the Force Majeure clause in the collective bargaining agreement, which covers for catastrophic circumstances. Per ESPN, once there is a cancellation of games, the clause is automatically triggered. The use of the clause protects against a dramatic drop in the salary cap and luxury tax for next season, but it would also lead to a more immediate financial impact on the league’s players.
According to Wojnarowski, the Force Majeure becomes one additional mechanism that could work for the league to deliver on the players’ agreed upon 51% revenue share with owners and balance the league’s financial formula.
Stein cites a league source that estimates that 90 percent of NBA players will have received less than half of their 2019-20 salaries by the time April 1 checks go out because they are on 12-month payment plans. Per Wojnarowski, Lakers star LeBron James is among the other 10% of players who are paid on a shortened pay period, meaning James is owed two more paychecks.
At this point, per ESPN, the NBA has expressed “no interest” in triggering the Force Majeure clause.
The salary reductions reportedly include commissioner Adam Silver and deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. There will not be widespread cuts to the rest of the NBA organization.
It has been nearly three weeks since the NBA suspended its season indefinitely. Silver previously said he’s optimistic the season could be salvaged in some form, but did not know the timing.
“When public health officials give us the O.K.,” Silver said.
As of Tuesday night, there are nearly 840,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, causing more than 41,000 deaths. There are more than 183,000 confirmed cases in the United States, the most of any country globally.