In early April, NBA commissioner Adam Silver set May 1st as the soonest that a decision on the season’s fate would be made. Now, as that date has passed, Silver and the league must collectively choose to either modify the remainder of the season or cancel it altogether.
The information surrounding potential decisions has been all but conclusive. On one hand, reporter Brian Windhorst is announcing on Twitter in early April that the NBA Players’ Association is in the process of negotiating a termination. Then, there’s Mark Cuban discussing a “cautiously optimistic” return to action while on CNN. Additionally, plans of holding playoffs in Las Vegas or in Orlando have gained traction. At this point, nobody can confidently determine what will happen.
LeBron James recently addressed rumors of the season’s cancellation on Twitter, explaining, “I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.” If the season returns, James’ Lakers will be the favorites to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Lakers’ upper management is desperately trying to get approval to host practices at the team facility, knowing this might be their best shot at a title in a while. But, had the Lakers been floundering, his message would probably be different.
The owners of other contending teams would most likely support a return to basketball too. After all, why shouldn’t they? The Bucks, for example, would love to bring a ring to Milwaukee before having to give Giannis Antetokounmpo a max contract. But there is nothing to make us believe that the front offices of the NBA’s less-successful clubs would share a similar perspective.
Take the Golden State Warriors. If the season were to be over, the Warriors would have successfully turned their injury-riddled season into a top-five lottery pick. In reality, as soon as they saw their starting lineup after Steph Curry’s injury, they knew there was no chance of winning the championship in 2020. Instead, tanking for a highly-touted top lottery pick was their golden ticket to continuing their winning habits in 2021 and beyond. GM Bob Myers knows that a resumption of the season would jeopardize that plan.
The Warriors’ front office, including coach Steve Kerr, has thus virtually given up hope. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Kerr told the media on April 28, “We’re staying in touch with our guys, but it definitely feels like the season is done for us.” If the Warriors were in LeBron’s position, they would undoubtedly support a return to action. But the truth is that more games would serve essentially no benefit to them.
Several other unproductive franchises would probably gravitate to Golden State’s outlook. Take the Brooklyn Nets, who are in a similar situation. The Nets signed Kevin Durant this offseason knowing that they would have to wait until next season to use him. At this point, it would be unwise of Brooklyn to force his return. Although the Nets sit in the playoff picture, they are also in the process of a coaching change, and Kyrie Irving isn’t exactly healthy either.
Just across the East River, the New York Knicks also wouldn’t benefit much from a resurrected season. The Knicks are in the midst of ownership issues and another failed season (12th place in the East with just 21 wins). If Adam Silver were to revive the season, the Knicks wouldn’t have enough games to tank for better lottery odds. They’d be taken out of their misery if the league decided to scrap the season.
As a decision looms, just imagine being the general manager of a team doesn’t have a chance at succeeding in or making the playoffs. The players are relatively out of shape and haven’t seen each other in months. Fans won’t even be allowed to attend games, so revenue will not be high. Is it really worth it to try and squeeze in a few extra games?
After all, the NBA is a business, not a hobby, for its employees. All 30 teams will undeniably try to do what is best for themselves. When it boils down to it, Steve Kerr couldn’t care less about whether LeBron James claims his fourth ring.