While the NBA has finally settled on a schedule for their plan to resume the 2019-20 season in Orlando, the last week has made it clear there are still plenty of details to sort out. And, as evidenced by the Kyrie Irving-led conference call on Friday night, there are many players who still aren’t sure returning to play is even a good idea.
Irving and others are worried about how basketball could distract from the protests that are still going strong in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police, and of course, there are all sorts of concerns surrounding health and safety. While many of them have to do with the coronavirus pandemic, the potential for injuries is also a hot topic.
As a result, some of the league’s top young stars are seeking insurance policies from the league in the result a COVID-19 infection, or debilitating injury could prevent them from signing a max contract extension when they’re eligible later this fall. The group from the 2017 draft class includes Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo, Donovan Mitchell, De’Aaron Fox and Kyle Kuzma, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The NBPA and NBA have engaged on the possibility of protections for players in the event of serious COVID-19 illnesses or career-threatening injuries suffered in Orlando, sources told ESPN. The union and league are still negotiating details on the revised terms to the collective bargaining agreement before the 22-team restart.
Together, Adebayo, Fox, Kuzma, Mitchell and Tatum have hoped the collective voice of such a starry group of elite young talent could shape the league’s thinking on sharing in the risk on insurance not only for them, but a broader swath of players returning to the season’s restart in Orlando, sources said.
Insurance policies for athletes are not uncommon, but figuring out the specifics will be both difficult and expensive in this situation. Per Wojnarowski, they could cost upwards of $500,000, and it may be difficult to cash in on them in the unfortunate event that is necessary. Still, this is a very reasonable ask by the players.
They’ll be entering unique and dangerous circumstances by returning to play in Orlando, with the risk of injury and sickness much higher than usual. Considering how close this group is to a life-changing payday, and with the long-term effects of COVID-19 still unclear, seeking some sort of extra financial protection is exactly what they should be doing.
Also, this really isn’t the main point here, but terrific work by Kuzma’s agent to get him included in this group.