NBA players to receive sizable salary reduction amid COVID-19 fallout

NBA players will see 25 per cent of their paychecks taken out starting May 15, the first direct hit to their salaries because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was finalized Friday in a board of governors meeting and was done in concert with the National Basketball Players Association.

Players will be paid in full on May 1. The cutback in salary has been expected for some time in response to the NBA’s shutdown that started March 11, and has no end in sight. The regular season would have ended Wednesday, and 259 games have yet to be played — but none have been officially called off yet.

“Through this agreement, and in order to provide players with a more gradual salary reduction schedule, partial reductions of 25 per cent will begin with the players’ twice-a-month payment due on May 15,” the NBA said in a news release.

The NBA playoffs would have started Saturday. If none of the 259 outstanding regular season games are played, the league’s players would lose about $800 million US in gross salary.

Taking 25 per cent out of checks on May 15 — and, presumably, checks on June 1 and June 15 should play not resume by then — would amount to players across the league missing $40 million in each pay period.

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The reduction in pay is in anticipation of what the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and its players describes as a “Force Majeure Event” — the legal term for unforeseeable circumstances, such as an epidemic or pandemic. Per the CBA, players could lose 1.08 per cent of their annual salary for each game that is cancelled.

By taking some money out now, the hit the players take later if games are cancelled would be lessened.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is scheduled to address reporters later Friday.