The NBA Board of Governors and the Players Association each independently approved the league’s restart plan, set to begin in Orlando, Florida, next month.
That doesn’t mean that every individual player is on board with playing basketball during a global pandemic, and the NBA is now making accommodations for players who are uncomfortable with the league resuming play. Per a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the league is agreeing on a proposal with the NBPA that would allow players to sit out the remainder of the season.
The NBA and NBPA are expected to agree on a provision that wouldn't require players to restart the season, nor subject them to discipline for staying home, sources tell ESPN. The players would lose a portion of salary for those games missed. https://t.co/WkV5qqEmE5— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 10, 2020
As Woj notes, players who elect to skip the rest of the season would miss out on salary for those games. Presumably, this would simply put them on equal footing with members of the already-eliminated teams, who can’t earn any additional money since their seasons are over.
Woj goes on to report that players do not need medical reasons for sitting out the rest of the season — they can make any decision that best suits them and their family.
In addition to the health risks posed by playing and indoor sport at this time (compounded further by a rise in the number of cases of coronavirus in Orange County, Florida), some players have expressed that the social movements sweeping across the country are more important than basketball. Patrick Beverley tweeted something to that effect, as did former Clipper Wilson Chandler. It may be possible that a player chooses to sit out in order to focus on activism instead of the NBA, like Maya Moore has in the WNBA.
Government can’t wait until the NBA start the season back. Need a distraction from the bullshit that’s going on. Always in need of distractions.— Wilson Chandler (@wilsonchandler) June 3, 2020
“Some guys want to sit back and figure out what our nation’s next move is, I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams or some key players didn’t want to play on behalf and in honor of George Floyd... [I had talked] with a couple guys from the Lakers & the Clippers, there are some whispers about some teams not being comfortable. Some guys want to play some guys don’t want to play.”
Doc Rivers has publicly expressed excitement about getting back to the team’s title pursuit, as have other players like recent addition Joakim Noah, but every individual will have their own opinion on whether playing right now makes sense.
The fact that the league is giving players this choice is a sign of the strong relationship between the commissioner and the players. The NBA’s negotiations have gone relatively smoothly, with the league committed to supporting its players’ interests. It’s important that the players have this option; now, we’ll wait to see if any players exercise it.