The NBA and NBPA negotiate a new player replacement rule
As teams continue to lose players to covid-19, the league and player's association have decided that they will do all they can to avoid the postponement or cancellation of games.
As the pandemic rages on, more and more teams are finding their rosters decimated by the virus
NBA and NBPA negotiate new roster rule
In recent weeks the NBA has seen a multitude of players from varying teams across the league forced into the Health and Safety Protocols and even some games being postponed as a result. According to reports the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are now talking about instituting a rule that would obligate teams hit hard by covid-19 to sign replacement players. It is understood that the conversations are currently ongoing.
While uncertainty and debate continue, it is understood that the general consensus after the NBA's Board of Governors held a call on call Friday, is to do whatever is required to avoid potential postponements or cancellations. Allowing teams to add replacement players would essentially increase the chances of doing just that. At present teams that have seen their rosters whittled away do have the option to add an additional player via a hardship exception. The idea is to make this mandatory.
What does the NBA's plan look like?
According to sources, the plan in practice would involve a team being permitted to sign a '10-day player' after the first case of covid-19. If, however, a second, third and fourth case follow, teams would be required to add a 10-day player. Teams would then be limited to three replacement players, but the new plan would, in principle, force teams to maintain enough depth such that cancellations or postponements are avoided at all costs by way of insuring that teams can field the league-required eight healthy players. In addition the teams would have to find themselves in a situation where they have both four unavailable players either through injury or covid-19 AND a roster that is down to only 13 healthy players in order for them to add a replacement player. Once a team crosses the five player threshold, however, it would then become mandatory for them to sign a replacement player.
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The NBA has to do something soon
Fortunately for teams, the replacement players won't count against a team's salary cap or luxury tax according to reports. As it stands there is a push to see a solution in the very near future as time is clearly of the essence. Simultaneously, there has been a push from team executives and coaches to alter the protocols in order to allow asymptomatic players to play in games. That move, however, has understandably been one that the league has shown any willingness to implement.
To date, more than 80 players have entered the protocols this season, with more or less every single team having to deal with player absences. Subsequent to those cases, the NBA was forced to postpone over 30 games last season, which is clearly why the league is doing all that it can to avoid having to do the same again. For the moment it seems that the league sees forcing teams to add replacement players as the best option. Critics argue it will decrease the quality of play on the court, however, if postponement of games is to be avoided, is there any real choice?