Top NBA officials are reportedly becoming increasingly doubtful that the 2019-20 NBA season will return from its hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The league is preparing for the worst as the governments in both the US and China continue to struggle to contain the virus, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.
"The talks between the players union and the leagues this week -- I talked to both sides on this issue -- it's clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down," Windhorst reported on SportsCenter on Friday night.
Lask week, reports surfaced detailing talks between the NBA and players association regarding the financial fallout in the event that the season is cancelled. Developments in recent days played a key role in those talks, Windhorst said.
The return of the Chinese Basketball Association was postponed due to continued uncertainty about whether the virus could flare up again in China. The league, on hiatus since January 24 due to the pandemic, was seen by many as a model for a potential NBA return.
"It's been a bad week," Windhorst said. "There was optimism about progress a week ago, and some things that happened this week have turned it south about what could happen. A big factor was what happened in China, where they halted the return of their league.
"One of the big reasons is because they really believed that if they tested their players' temperature all the time that it would work, but the Chinese are finding that asymptomatic carriers may be causing a second wave in that country. And they have just slammed on the brakes on sports."
While a verdict on the NBA season doesn't appear to be at hand any time soon, the signals don't look great, according to Windhorst.
"The way they're negotiating leaves them an option either way, but they're not having talks about how to restart the league. They're having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down. And I think there's a significant amount of pessimism right now."