Thunder's Chris Paul on NBA's Return: 'We're All Playing the Sit-and-Wait Game'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 8, 2020

Oklahoma City Thunder's Chris Paul (3) drives past Boston Celtics' Kemba Walker during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March, 8, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and National Basketball Players Association president Chris Paul doesn't know when the NBA will return from its COVID-19 hiatus, but he's less concerned with that timeline than getting the pandemic under control.

"To tell the truth, I don't know," he said when asked if the NBA might cancel its season altogether, per Jabari Young of CNBC. "We're all playing the sit-and-wait game, and most of all, trying to get this virus contained. That's the top priority."

One major storyline of a canceled season—or even an abbreviated season with canceled games if the league ends its hiatus—is the financial implications for players. If games are canceled, it will automatically triggerforce majeure provision, with players giving up one percent of their salary per game lost. 

The NBA and NBPA have also been negotiating a pay cut for the players while the league is suspended: 

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: The NBA is proposing to the NBPA that players take a 50 percent paycheck reduction beginning April 15. The NBPA has counter-proposed a 25 percent reduction of paychecks starting in mid-May.

Young also reported Tuesday that the NBA owners will seek to recoup some salary already paid to players in those negotiations, namely players paid on a six-month schedule. 

"As long as we have the conversations about it and try to make sure that guys are prepared as possible, I think we'll be fine," Paul said. "I'm happy guys want to know what's going on, and guys want to be informed. I can't say it enough: I think we've got the best body of players in our league."

The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus before a game with the Thunder. Paul was in the arena that night as the game was initially delayed and eventually postponed altogether and applauded the league for its handling of the situation. 

"I give a big credit to our league," he told CNBC. "Some people might have just said, 'Let's figure that out after the game.' We realized it wasn't a basketball crisis or problem, it was about everybody's safety, not just us as players."