The Lakers plan to ask top-level executives to voluntarily defer 20% of their pay as the team navigates its finances during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to people familiar with the situation.
The requests have not been made, but will be done in hopes of avoiding cuts that impact lower level staff members. Once the deferments begin, they will last until the first regular season game of the 2020-21 season or mid-December, whichever comes sooner. The NBA season typically begins in late October, but it is still unclear how the pandemic will impact the schedule for this season and the next.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Monday in an interview streamed on Twitter that he has told league executives that they likely would not be able to make any decisions until after April.
“I don’t think that necessarily means that, on May 1, we will be [making a decision,]” Silver said. “It doesn’t mean that, internally, both the league and discussions with our players and the teams we aren’t looking at many different scenarios for restarting the season, but I think it honestly is just too early, given what’s happened right now, to even be able to project or predict where we will be in a few weeks.”
When the league first halted operations after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11, the NBA had a conference call with team governors in which there was an expectation that the shutdown would last at least 30 days. The league will cross that threshold this week.
In the meantime, teams have lost much of the revenue that would have come with those games. The Lakers are one of the league’s most profitable teams but made staff cuts during the lockout in 2011, as did many teams.
The lockout year was the last time games were lost during the regular season.
The regular season was scheduled to end April 15, with the playoffs starting three days later.
The Lakers (49-14) have the best record in the Western Conference, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Clippers (44-20). The Milwaukee Bucks (53-12) lead the East.