Signs point to it being even longer than that.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, NBA owners and executives are bracing for a best-case return to play in mid-to-late June, and a worst case of an entirely lost season, according to ESPN.
On Wednesday the NBA became the first professional league in the country to suspend its season after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive. Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell and Detroit’s Christian Wood have also tested positive.
“I’ve been feeling a little better every single day,” Gobert said in a video posted Sunday on social media. “I wish I would’ve took this thing more seriously.”
Anybody who wasn’t taking it seriously is now. The NBA, NHL and MLS had all suspended play for 30 days, and Major League Baseball essentially followed suit, canceling the remainder of spring training and pushing back Opening Day two weeks to April 9. That’s all now shown to be hopelessly optimistic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out with recommendations Sunday night that would effectively shutter pro sports deep into May, and possibly beyond.
“CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers … cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States,” the CDC said in a statement.
“Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing.”
For perspective, the NBA regular season was scheduled to end April 15 with the Finals concluding by June 21.
The NCAA canceled March Madness — slated to start Tuesday — while tennis (Indian Wells and the Miami Open) and golf (The Masters and The Players Championship) were either postponed or canceled outright.
Now the two-month shutdown proposed by the CDC would extended well into the MLB season.
The NBA and NHL are winter sports held indoors — like boxing — so it’s unclear exactly how they might be impacted differently than outdoor sports such as baseball, MLS, track & field and golf.
Also up in the air are the off-field events like the NBA, NHL and NFL drafts.
The NBA has looked into asking its teams to share availability for their arenas through the end of July. That implies the league is looking at a season that runs at least that long.
But in the interim the league has extended its ban on team practices indefinitely. It has also recommended temperature checks on everyone entering its facilities, according to ESPN.