NBA could lose $2 billion if season canceled due to COVID-19?

Matt Johnson
NBA, revenue
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA is committed to doing whatever it can to resume the 2019-’20 season and crown a champion. As players and teams weigh a variety of options to bring basketball back during the COVID-19 pandemic, both sides are doing it with a lot on the line.

In a year that already saw the NBA take a financial hit due to the situation with China earlier this season, the NBA could suffer a far bigger hit to its revenue if the remainder of the season is canceled.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the league anticipated it would generate nearly $9 billion in basketball-related income this season. If the league is forced to cancel the remainder of the season, including the NBA Playoffs, it could cost nearly $2 billion in losses.

The NBA already took steps during its indefinite suspension to help account for some of the financial blow. The league agreed to a deal with the NBA Players’ Association to reduce salaries starting in May 15 and further cuts could be looming.

While there is growing optimism that the season will resume, it’s far from a guarantee. Recently, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr hinted that the rest of the season would be canceled. The NBA also recently postponed the 2020 NBA Draft.

After already experiencing one COVID-19 outbreak in March, which forced the NBA so suspend operations, the league needs testing kits to be readily available. While owners have the financial resources to potentially get them in a few months, the NBA also doesn’t want to take COVID-19 tests away from the general public during a health crisis.

Similar to the NFL, a massive revenue hit would be felt by everyone across the league. Owners would likely need to let more stadium employees go and the NBA’s salary cap would also be cut dramatically.

Fortunately, there is still hope that the NBA season can return in the summer. If the pandemics worsens, though, then the league may ultimately need to take the financial hit during an unprecedented crisis.