With layoffs, furloughs and other financial struggles becoming increasingly commonplace, the NBA just became the latest company to buckle under the weight of our country’s economic collapse.
In what could finally signal acknowledging that the rest of this NBA season will be cut short, ESPN reports that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have agreed to withhold 25 percent of each player’s salary, beginning May 15. Doing so “clears the way for a gradual reduction in player salaries” should any remaining regular-season games be canceled—which at this point seems inevitable.
Withheld funds will go into what’s essentially an escrow account, in which the money will be returned to players if all remaining regular-season games are played, but otherwise will be divided up among each team, based upon how many games are canceled.
In a worst-case scenario, players could be out of as much as $654 million in salary, per Front Office Sports, though they’ll continue to receive their paychecks in full until May 1.
To minimize such a major financial hit, provide players with the opportunity to budget properly ahead of time and to avoid a situation in which the league has to run players down for its money, the deductions will be spread out over the first four pay periods of the 2020-21 season, beginning in November. And considering CJ McCollum’s estimation that a third of the league lives check to check, it doesn’t bode well for the financial stability of some of our favorite NBA players.
The league has remained mum on any immediate plans to cancel games or resume the season, but the union has informed players that a decision could be made one way or another on June 15.
I’m personally in favor of a truncated season and playoffs if it allows the 2020-21 season to begin as close to its original date as possible, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed and see what happens.
Let us pray.