Per an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), players will begin to receive 25 percent less in their paychecks beginning on Friday, May 15. However, some top stars will actually have to reimburse the league in order to comply with these terms, according to ESPN‘s NBA front-office expert Bobby Marks. Most notably, these include former MVPs and multi-time champions LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
The agreement to reduce pay comes as a temporary measure to compensate for lost revenue amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the NBA having suspended its 2019-20 campaign on March 11 in the wake of its first positive player test, the league has lost out on income from live attendance, television broadcasts, and other revenue streams. The agreement deems that the players, the league, and its teams all bear financial responsibility for the loss of revenue.
However, while many players have continued to receive paychecks, some stars — like James and Curry — had received the entirety of their 2019-20 salaries in advance. As a result, salary reductions will come out of their advance payments for next season, beginning with their November 15 paychecks. Those players will essentially have an IOU per paycheck to their teams, ranging from $390,000 in James’ case to $420,000 for Curry for each time there is a scheduled 25 percent pay reduction.
Other big-name stars who had already been paid in full include the Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul George, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, and the Detroit Pistons’ Blake Griffin, all of whom were originally slated to earn more than $33 million this season.
Per Marks, if the NBA is forced to cancel games outright, the reduction in players’ salaries could ultimately swell to 40 percent. Should the 2019-20 campaign be canceled entirely, players are projected to lose more than $1 billion in total salary, which includes payouts for postseason play. However, if the league is able to return to action this season and the 2019-20 campaign simply picks up where it left off in March, teams will be responsible for refunding the full amount of deferred salary to their players.
Whether or not the NBA can safely resume play while the U.S. continues to see approximately 20,000 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection daily (per the May 14 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics) remains to be seen.
Nevertheless, return-to-play scenarios are being discussed, some of which call for the season to be concluded from a single location. To that end, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has invited the league to use his state as the venue, as reported previously by The Inquisitr.