NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that the league plans to do everything it can to get back on the floor this year and finish the 2019-20 season even in the face of a spreading coronavirus pandemic. “I’m optimistic by nature,” Silver said on ESPN this week. “I want to believe we can salvage some form of the season.”
While players around the league obviously want to believe that is true, there’s a growing sense that time is beginning to stack up against a return to play this season. The projection is that the NBA could return in June and finish up with the Finals in July or early August.
“I just think it’s going to be so hard,” Hayward said, speaking with former NBA star Richard Jefferson on Instagram Live, “like I don’t know what they’re going to do, as far as, at this point in time, how many games are we going to have left? I know the arenas have contracts with other shows and entertainment. Players, we have contracts that are up in June. I don’t know how they can manage all this.”
Gordon Hayward Faces Contract Decision
Hayward knows that all too well. Before the season was suspended on March 12, he was one of the players facing an especially difficult decision on his own contract this offseason. He had until June 29 to decide on a player option for next season, worth $34 million.
After breaking his ankle in his first game with the Celtics in 2017, Hayward missed the rest of the season and was slow to return to form last year. But this season, he was putting up the kind of numbers that could put him in line for another big long-term contract: 17.3 points on 50.2 percent shooting, 39.2 percent 3-point shooting, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists.
All of that is up in the air these days.
“This is unprecedented, so I’m sure there’s going to be different rules and stuff,” Hayward said. “I’m hoping that it comes back, it’s just hard for me to imagine it coming back.”
Hayward Struggling to Maintain Conditioning
Another issue that will be a problem if players and teams finally do get back to action this season: conditioning. The NBA has ordered the shutdown of team practice facilities and barred players from working out in public gyms in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Speaking with Jefferson, Hayward said he has not been able to work out the way he typically does, even with a makeshift gym set up in his house.
“Both my effort and the equipment are terrible,” Hayward said, according to Boston.com. “To be honest, I need to go somewhere to work out because then I can get locked in and feel like I’m going to go work. When I just wake up and go down to the basement — and then I have the girls running through trying to do the exercises — it just is not a good environment for working out.”