NBA players could potentially lose $654 million in pay if the global coronavirus pandemic wipes out what’s left of the 2019/2020 season, according to an estimate by Spotrac.
The NBA’s roughly 450 players across 30 teams usually get paid twice a month, though individual contracts vary. However, if there are no games, there are no paychecks.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suspended the 2019-2020 regular season as of March 11, and expects operations to be shut down for at least 30 days. If the regular season is canceled, the NBA could lose up to 250 games through the last day of the season on April 15.
If the canceled games are not made up, players could take a big hit in their bank accounts. LeBron James, for example, could lose an estimated $8.95 million in salary, according to Michael Ginnitti, co-founder and editor of Spotrac, which tracks the salaries of pro players and payrolls of teams.
Spotrac’s estimate does not include additional postseason pay.
Under Article XXXIX, Section 5 of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, players can lose 1/92.6th of their salary for every game canceled due to a Force Majeure event, according to ESPN. So-called FME events under the current CBA include “epidemics,” wars and terrorism.
The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) sent a warning memo to members about the possible “doomsday” provision on Friday, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers summed up the potential problem facing NBA players on social media.
“No games, no pay…Hope everybody saved properly,” tweeted McCollum.
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Silver issued a public letter to NBA fans March 12 saying, “We intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned.”
The NBA declined to comment on the potential impact on player salaries. A spokesperson for the NBPA could not be reached.