NBA commissioner Adam Silver suspended all games immediately after NBA players tested positive for the novel coronavirus almost two weeks ago. At least two games were suspended before tip-off, after pre-game testing showed that one player and one referee had the infection. Last Friday, the NBA discussed the possibility of suspending player salaries.
According to CBS Sports, the league is in an awkward financial position. With the games suspended, teams have no revenue coming in. With player guaranteed contracts, a middle ground needs to be discussed. According to the league, players will get their next scheduled check due on April 1, but nothing is guaranteed after that.
Typically, NBA teams pay their players' multi-million contracts bi-monthly on the 1st and 15th of the month. There are cases of different pay schedules in specific agreements, but for the most part, the 1st and 15th bi-monthly schedule holds true. Player salaries are guaranteed by agreements, while other income such as bonuses, cap, and others can change as stipulated within individual contracts.
However, with the 30-day hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic and with no news of when games will resume, it puts the teams in a bad financial position. The league will need to mediate between team owners and their players with the guaranteed contracts. As is, teams are expected to take the brunt of the financial loss due to the hiatus, a position the league does not want to see unless they want a repeat of the 1998-1999 lockout that shut down the league due to teams having issues with player salaries.
At the moment, there is no meaningful compromise between the players and team owners. It has been almost a decade since the last NBA lockout due to a salary dispute. Today, the situation is unique; the game suspension happened first, which is the cause of the salary dispute. Team owners have the advantage in negotiations since players want to play, and they have the higher moral ground on the issue. However, if the players stick to their position in upholding their guaranteed contracts, then it's a long battle ahead to restart the games.