The NBA is still looking at scenarios that could allow teams to play in Europe and China again next season, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said Tuesday. Tatum also said the NBA’s season-opening doubleheader Tuesday night would be shown in China on Tencent, a league streaming partner. But the coronavirus pandemic is preventing the league from playing any games outside the U.S. this season, except possibly a return by the Toronto Raptors to Canada — something that won’t happen before March at the earliest.
Commissioner Adam Silver said at the All-Star break this past February that the league’s issues with China would lead to perhaps as much as $400 million in lost revenue — and that was before the pandemic struck and led to even more revenue missed leaguewide. “There’s no doubt that we have a long history in China, a more than 40-year history of doing business in China, and that we remain committed to people-to-people exchange with the hundreds of millions of fans that we have there,” Tatum said. “Playing global games has been and will continue to be an important part of how we engage with our fans in China and in other parts of the world, as well.”
Who is the best player currently playing in Europe? The other two top contenders, with four votes each, both have serious arguments as the top player. But Mike James, the CSKA Moscow guard who split one season of his career between Phoenix and New Orleans, edged the others. “Because he can beat you so many ways,” says one coach. James, a 29-year-old from Oregon, averaged 21.1 points and 4.3 assists per game while drawing 5.9 fouls before the league halted play because of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
Who is the best NBA prospect currently playing in Europe? The clear winner, with a majority of 10 of the 19 votes, is the player expected to be the highest non-American pick in this summer’s NBA Draft. Deni Avdija, currently projected as the No. 3 choice in The Athletic’s most recent mock draft, is a dynamic 6-8 wing at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
If you took the first-place team in the EuroLeague, including its coaching and support staff, and put it in the U.S. as an NBA team, could it make the playoffs? By a 15-to-six vote, the verdict was no — the NBA is the NBA for a reason. The “no” answers varied in their certainty, from “no way” and “no shot” to “I don’t think so.” Two who ultimately voted no offered up caveats. One says “maybe” in the Eastern Conference. Another says the European team “would push for the playoffs,” perhaps climbing to ninth or 10th place.
Dusan Ivkovic, who announced his retirement in 2016 after a long and successful career, talks about the current situation in Europe with more and more players making their jump to the NBA. “I would not say that European basketball is in crisis. But it is obvious that the NBA is so strong that it is impossible to compete with, and it collects all the best players around the world. The salary ceiling has already risen above $ 100 million” he tells.