Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, Brooklyn Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Washington Wizards star John Wall and Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin are among the NBA players who will receive all or most of their salary for the 2019-20 season, the New York Times' Marc Stein reported on Monday.
On March 20, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that NBA teams plan to pay out all players' paychecks that are due Wednesday, but the league "left open the possibility of recouping future salaries for canceled games on April 15."
The current collective bargaining agreement contains a force majeure provision that allows the NBA to keep 1.08 percent of a player's salary for every game canceled due to "catastrophic circumstances," such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Stein reported Tuesday that a small group of players "negotiated all-you-can-get deals which feature the maximum allowable salary advance alongside an accelerated six-month payment schedule."
Marc Stein @TheSteinLine
The nine Klutch players are naturally led by LeBron James and include John Wall, Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, Dejounte Murray, Miles Bridges, Darius Bazley, Darius Garland, Terrance Ferguson and Trey Lyles. Next season it will be 10 when Draymond Green’s contract extension kicks in
However, he provided additional updates, noting "the select group of NBA players who have already received the vast majority of their 2019-20 salaries would eventually have to make paybacks through a different mechanism."
Marc Stein @TheSteinLine
@jgsiegel @earlybirdrights The implication is delaying that measure could bring the NBA to a point later in the year where larger chunks or even full checks have to be withheld if the season can't be saved. @espn reported tonight that the sides "are discussing ways for an orderly redistribution of money"
It's unclear when the 2019-20 NBA season will resume.
On Friday, ESPN's Brian Windhorst noted the league was following the steps that the Chinese Basketball Association has taken as it attempts to return. The CBA's tentative plan included moving all of its players to one or two cities and having them play in empty arenas while being closely examined to ensure they remained healthy.
However, Windhorst later reported that the Chinese government has indefinitely delayed the resumption of the CBA and other sports leagues.
That raises further doubt about the immediate future of the NBA, since China has been ahead of the United States in its detection and containment of COVID-19. The U.S. has more confirmed cases than any other country (184,183) and 3,721 deaths from the disease, per CNN.
With things in flux, Wojnarowski reported the NBA was reducing the salaries of about 100 of its "top-earning executives around the world" by 20 percent.
According to Stein, some around the league have wondered whether that step would precede withholding player salaries.