Chicago Bulls: What impact would cancellation of 2019-20 NBA season have?

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The idea of the 2019-20 NBA season getting completely cancelled still seems like an unlikely, albeit costly, thought that even impacts the Chicago Bulls.

There’s a lot of varying speculation going on around the NBA right now as to how safe the league’s idea for resuming the season in the “bubble” in Orlando, FL, late next month will be. According to a report from Zach Lowe and Baxter Holmes of ESPN over the weekend, there are “growing concerns” about the rise in confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus around the country, namely in Florida, recently. And this is something that is still worth noting for any fans of teams on the outside looking in like the Chicago Bulls.

Here’s some of the more impactful parts about what that ESPN piece released over the weekend had to say on this subject.

"The National Basketball Players Association held a virtual town hall with players this week and addressed concerns about the Florida cases, sources familiar with the matter told ESPN. Players brought up the fact that Walt Disney World staffers who will not reside in the NBA campus — including hotel housekeepers — will not be subject to any coronavirus testing, sources said. One mitigating factor that was cited, a source added: Many of the new cases are in areas other than Orlando.South Florida remains the state’s hardest-hit region, accounting for almost half of the total cases in the state, and Miami-Dade County alone has nearly 25,000 cases.Walt Disney World, which will house 22 teams, sits largely in Orange County and in part of Osceola County — both located in Central Florida, a region that hasn’t been hit nearly as hard. Orange County has about 4,500 cases, and Osceola County has reported about 1,000."

Valid concerns are presented by the players with the reported spike in positive COVID-19 cases. But there seems to be conflicting views from various players, coaches, team staff, etc. on the matter. According to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on June 22, the majority of the NBA’s players and staff, among others, are still excited to get the 2019-20 season resumed next month at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

Any situation like this is going to have a greater impact on the 22 teams that are supposed to resume play to round up the 2019-20 season, with games planned to start on July 31, than the rest of the league. Teams in the Eastern Conference, like the Bulls, New York Knicks, Detroit Pistons, etc., are put in a different spot here.

They don’t have a usual dog in this fight to determine how the season is finished. But if it were to end in a hypothetical worst case scenario of just not resuming next month with the “bubble” plan, then every other team around the NBA would be greatly impacted too. The Bulls and Pistons have both made sizable front office changes and are looking to jump back in the playoff race in the East as soon as next season.

The 2020-21 regular season is already planned to start late. Anything else altering that could radically reshape the outlook for the rebuilding of almost any non-playoff contender in the East from this season.

A detailed piece from Hoops Hype outlined what the impact of shutting down the NBA season would be, from the draft lottery, to future delays, all the way to the financial ramifications. It’s obvious at this point that what the NBA would stand to lose if the rest of the season was cancelled would be a monetary figure well into the billions (all things considered).

A report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski from June 12 shows that the financial loss to the players alone without competing in the rest of the season would be around $1.2 billion. That doesn’t even include the loss in revenue for the NBA itself and for any other staffers, sponsors, management, arena workers, etc.

And this is where the particular impact could carry over to the Bulls. Losses in revenue and/or altering of the draft and the start date to next season would also dramatically shift their plan for rebuilding this organization from the ground up during the offseason. The Bulls already made the move to bring on former Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to be the next lead voice in the front office. He’s since made significant hirings to fill out the management roles, including Marc Eversley as the new general manager.

If the draft lottery is altered any further, an already volatile big board for the Bulls could have to change even more. Their plans in free agency also change depending on how the season finishes out. The Bulls have a pretty clear timeline as to how they could scout out various draft and free agent targets.

Cutting that process short, or changing who is involved, is going to shift what Karnisovas and Eversley are able to piece together this offseason heading into the fourth year of the Bulls rebuild. The Bulls need to hit big on this round of the draft and cycle of free agency.

Furthermore, there’s two general areas in which players and the league could be hurt by not finishing out the season. The current CBA could be put in jeopardy if all of the players were to hold out. And the salary cap could go even lower than it is planned to drop in the near future.

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Karnisovas already has a ton on his plate heading into the 2020 offseason. Increasing the tension and workload might not do much to help given all the contracts the Bulls have up from their last few first round picks in the next two years, and how much volatility already comes with fixing this rebuild.