Report: NBA developing plans for possible games without fans due to coronavirus
The NBA is not cancelling any games due to the coronavirus outbreak, but they are asking teams to work on backup plans in case extreme measures need to be taken for containment purposes.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Friday that the NBA sent teams a memo asking them to prepare for possible games without fans. As part of the preparations, teams would be asked to identify “essential staff” that would be present for the games.
Sources: The NBA has sent a memo to its franchises explaining that, due to coronavirus outbreak, teams should be preparing to play games without fans in attendance and identifying “essential staff” present for these games — should it be necessary.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 7, 2020
The New York Times’ Marc Stein says that any decisions to cancel or postpone a game would be up to the league office.
Postponing or canceling any game due to the coronavirus is a league office decision but the NBA, sources say, has notified teams to start "developing" contingency plans in case "it were to become necessary to play a game with only essential staff present" — no fans, media, etc
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) March 7, 2020
Keep in mind: these memos being sent to teams does not mean any games are being cancelled, postponed, or played without fans at this time. It just means the league is trying to prepare for all circumstances and asking its teams to prepare as well. The league has taken other measures as well, such as encouraging players to fist bump rather than high-five.