Most NBA enthusiasts know the league intends to salvage the season although Thursday marks the 64th day since the shutdown. Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins confirmed last week that the league is prepared to play as late as Labor Day.
But how do NBA teams feel?
It appears the answer depends on a team’s market size and what’s at stake.
Small-market teams, younger teams seeking playoff experience, and NBA title contenders would like to finish the season, according to a league source. Other teams are indifferent or prepared to move on to next season, the source added.
Teams in small markets would like to finish the season to secure TV revenue. The threshold to receive TV revenue from regional sports networks is 70 regular-season games.
NBA teams have played an averaged of 64.7 games this season. The Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks have played the most games at 67 apiece. The Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs are tied for the fewest at 63.
In addition to receiving revenue from games aired locally on regional sports networks, ABC/ESPN and Turner pay the league roughly $2.6 billion to show their games. So there’s a benefit to resuming the season.
But the last-place Golden State Warriors (15-50 after reaching the last five NBA Finals) shut everything down and don’t want to finish the season. The organization is focused on remaining healthy in preparation for next season. By contrast, the title-contending Los Angeles Clippers, Lakers, and Milwaukee Bucks hope to return and don’t want to miss out on a window this year.
The Bucks (53-12) had the league’s best record before the season was suspended. The Lakers (49-14) had the second-best overall record and best mark in the Western Conference. The Clippers (44-20) were second in the West.
Young teams currently in playoff races -- the Magic, Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and New Orleans Pelicans -- would gain valuable experience from a postseason run.
The Lakers’ LeBron James responded on Twitter to a CNBC report on April 30 about team executives and player agents calling on the league to cancel the rest of the season.
“Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season???” the four-time league MVP tweeted. “That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.”
For James, the resumption of the season provides the perfect opportunity to win his fourth NBA title. Despite being 35 years old, he’s playing at an MVP-caliber level and would benefit from the league’s return.
The same can be said about the 76ers, whose window to win an NBA championship could close quickly. The team has underachieved for most of the season and hold the sixth-best record in the East. General manager Elton Brand has always said this team was built for the playoffs. Its title chances could get tougher next season when the Nets, with perennial All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving healthy and back in the lineup, would be one of the favorites to win the East next season.
Brand said the Sixers look forward to resuming the season, whether it’s the regular season or playoffs.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver told players during Friday’s NBPA teleconference that the league can wait until June to make a decision on resuming the season. Silver also confirmed that one or two locations without fans would be best for the health and safety of players.
But the Warriors have moved on for now.