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NBPA Warns NBA Players of 'Doomsday Provision' That Could Impact Salaries

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 13, 2020

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: An NBA logo is shown at the 5th Avenue NBA store on March 12, 2020 in New York City. The National Basketball Association said they would suspend all games after player Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

NBA players could lose out on a portion of their salaries if the rest of this season is canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the National Basketball Players Association informed its members of a doomsday provision in the collective bargaining agreement that would allow owners to avoid paying a percentage of player salaries in the event of certain scenarios, including natural disasters, war and epidemics. 

Wojnarowski cited Article XXXIX, Section 5 in the CBA, "players lose 1/92.6 of their salary for every game missed as a result of a Force Majeure Event ("FME")this refers to events or conditions that makes it impossible for the NBA to perform its obligation under the CBA."

B/R's Ric Bucher used LeBron James as an example of how the doomsday provision would work in terms of cutting player salary: 

"The seven-year collective bargaining agreement struck between the league and the players union in 2016 states that the league can reduce every player's salary by 1.08 percent for every canceled game. That means, potentially, if the Lakers-Rockets game originally scheduled for Thursday night is ruled a cancellation and not just a postponement, LeBron James may have to forfeit $404,286 of his four-year, $154-million contract signed before last season."

Another example cited by Bucher is Mychal Mulder, who signed an extension with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday after joining the team on a 10-day contract last month: "Mulder stood to make $9,700 per game, a nice step up for someone who previously played in the NBA G League, where the base salary is $7,000 per month. There is a chance Mulder never makes that much money per game again."

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Per Wojnarowski, players will receive their next paychecks scheduled to be distributed Sunday, and there has been "no discussion" about the FME right now because "there remains hope" the season will resume.

Bucher also noted the NBA salary cap could be reduced as a result of lost income if the season either gets canceled or resumes with a reduced regular-season and/or playoff schedule.

The NBA season was suspended after Wednesday's schedule.

In a letter posted on Twitter, commissioner Adam Silver announced the "hiatus will last at least 30 days and we intend to resume the season, if and when it becomes safe for all concerned."

Every team had played at least 64 times at the time the suspension took effect. The regular season was scheduled to end April 15 with the playoffs set to start April 18.

The NBA Finals has been played every year since the league's inception in 1946-47. The last regular season to be played with fewer than 82 games was in 2011-12 (66 games) because of a lockout.

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