Morning Consult Sports: NBA Reportedly Prepping for Possible Cancellation of Season


Top Stories

  • The NBA and its players’ union have reportedly shifted the focus of their discussions from determining how to restart the 2019-20 season to what would happen from a financial standpoint if the league decides to cancel it. The league is said to have become pessimistic about a possible restart due to concerns about its ability to test players regularly for the coronavirus and potential challenges of quarantining players in a single location. (CBS Sports)
  • The UFC believes it is very close to securing a new U.S. venue for UFC 249, sources said, and it appears the event will most likely be held on the West Coast. The promotion, which has made a point to keep the location under wraps, has reportedly explored the possibility of holding the event on tribal land, where it would not have to adhere to the regulations of state athletic commissions. (ESPN)
  • The NBA and ESPN are developing a H-O-R-S-E competition for television featuring several high-profile players performing trick shots from their own home gyms, according to sources, a format that would allow the competitors to remain in isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic. Details, including which players would participate and when the event would take place, are still reportedly being finalized. (ESPN)

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Media

Bruin Ends Sale Process for Streaming Company Deltatre
Eben Novy-Williams and Nabila Ahmed, Bloomberg

Bruin Sports Capital is no longer looking to sell its media and technology company Deltatre, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The process was terminated because of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing a private matter.

NFL

Pro day cancellations forcing changes to NFL draft process
Michael Marot, The Associated Press

Gone for the most part this year are access to in-person interviews, on-campus workouts and visits to team headquarters. Also gone are some of the numbers garnered at pro days that decision-makers like to crunch as they become increasingly reliant on advanced metrics.

Rams’ COO says new logos, colors won’t change despite criticism
Lindsey Thiry, ESPN

If you were under the impression that the Los Angeles Rams might be thinking twice about moving forward with their recently revealed rebranding effort, think again. The Rams have no plan to move away from their new logos and colors and are taking in stride some of the backlash they’ve received from fans and even Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson.

NBA

Bulls seeking top executive with full authority on basketball decisions
Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN

The Chicago Bulls have embarked on a formal search process to hire a new top executive with full authority on basketball decisions, sources told ESPN. Among the Bulls’ initial plans will be to seek permission to interview Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas and Toronto GM Bobby Webster, among other candidates, sources told ESPN.

Utah Jazz, Larry H. Miller Group of Companies lay off portion of workforce
Andy Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune

The Utah Jazz and the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies laid off hundreds of employees on Friday, as many of their businesses have lost nearly all of their ongoing revenue as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The company declined to reveal the total number of employees laid off, but in a statement sent to the news media, a company spokesman referred to the layoffs as a “small percentage of our workforce.”

MLB

Judge dismisses fantasy baseball players’ lawsuit against Astros, MLB
David Barron, Houston Chronicle

A federal judge in New York mixed technical points of law with humor and theatrical flourishes in delivering a rousing defeat Friday to a group of baseball daily fantasy players who sued the Astros, Red Sox and Major League Baseball, claiming they were defrauded by the sport’s electronic sign-stealing scandal. A similar case filed by a bettor in Minnesota who wagered on daily fantasy sports through FanDuel remains pending in a Minneapolis federal court.

Three Diamondbacks minority owners are suing Ken Kendrick over forced buyouts
Zach Buchanan, The Athletic

Three minority owners of the Diamondbacks claim that the club and managing general partner Ken Kendrick is illegally trying to force them to either increase their investment in the team or relinquish their stakes at a price the minority owners say is unfairly discounted, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

NHL

Could North Dakota be an NHL location if 2019-20 season resumes?
Elliotte Friedman, Sportsnet

The NHL and NHLPA are beginning to spitball scenarios as to where remaining 2019-20 regular-season/playoff games could be held. One location that’s been mentioned: North Dakota. The league and players must agree on any return-to-play scenarios.

Rangers Prospect K’Andre Miller Faces Racial Abuse in a Team Video Chat
Allan Kreda, The New York Times

K’Andre Miller, a top prospect for the Rangers, was repeatedly subjected to a racial slur when a team-sponsored online video chat was hacked on Friday. Miller, who is African-American, appeared on the videoconferencing app Zoom, which allowed questions from fans.

City says no home games before June 30 for Stamps, Flames
Daniel Austin, Calgary Herald

Neither the Calgary Flames or Stampeders will be allowed to host home games until June 30 at the earliest. On Friday, the City of Calgary announced that it was banning all public events until the end of June in an effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senators offer facilities to Ontario government during COVID-19 pandemic
The Canadian Press

The Ottawa Senators have offered the Canadian Tire Centre, the building’s nine adjacent parking lots, and three other community arenas affiliated with the team to the Ontario government for temporary use during the COVID-19 pandemic. A club spokesperson said Friday that Senators owner Eugene Melnyk approached the province earlier this week and is awaiting a reply.

College Sports

Who’s ponying up? NCAA eligibility extension comes with many questions
Lance Ringler, Golfweek

In the event she returns for a final year, a female golfer who had been on a full scholarship might now have to pay the full amount. For a male player, it might just come down to adding more cost (and potentially racking up more debt) to what that individual had already been paying.

Soccer

MLS 25th anniversary remains quiet milestone amid pandemic
Anne M. Peterson, The Associated Press

Multiple league sources told The Associated Press last week that the preference is to still play a 34-game season — with fans in attendance. However, that possibility grew dimmer with the U.S. government’s recommendation to extend social distancing guidelines to April 30.

PSG shirt sponsor Accor threatens to withhold next payment
Steven Impey, SportsPro Media

Paris Saint-Germain’s principal partner Accor may not make its next sponsorship payment to the French soccer champions, the hotel chain’s chief executive has said. With the 2019/20 season on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, Sébastien Bazin told domestic cable channel BFM TV that the French hospitality business is unlikely to pay its next instalment if the Ligue 1 campaign does not resume.

Racing

Sponsor Drops NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace After He Quit Sunday’s iRacing Event at Bristol
Darren Rovell, The Action Network

“We aren’t sponsoring Bubba anymore,” Blessing told The Action Network. “Can you imagine if he did that in real life on a track?” Wallace, who has a reputation of being fiery on the circuit, had a nonchalant reaction after he started to get some blowback for quitting the race.

Nevada approves betting on virtual NASCAR races
David Purdum, ESPN

Nevada Gaming Control on Friday announced that the state’s sportsbooks could offer betting on the 2020 eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series. It’s the first time Nevada sportsbooks have been allowed to take bets on a virtual auto racing event.

MotoGP offers teams financial support in virus-hit season
Reuters

MotoGP announced financial measures on Friday to help independent teams and those in the Moto2 and Moto3 categories weather the novel coronavirus crisis. “Through the International Road-Racing Teams Association (IRTA), MotoGP independent teams will each receive considerable advance payments during the months of April, May and June, irrespective of whether activity is restarted or not,” the series said in a statement.

Golf and Tennis

Source: PGA Championship at Harding Park will be rescheduled for Aug. 6-9
Ron Kroichick and Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle

PGA of America officials now plan to hold one of golf’s four major championships at Harding from Aug. 6-9, a source told The Chronicle. The event will be part of the PGA Tour’s revised schedule, which the tour is expected to announce Monday.

U.S. Women’s Open Postponed Until December
Bill Pennington, The New York Times

The United States Golf Association postponed the 75th United States Women’s Open from early June to mid-December on Friday, a notable sign that golf’s governing bodies are seriously weighing dates late this year as they scramble to reschedule an ever-expanding list of postponed women’s and men’s events.

LPGA, Symetra players offered financial aid from cash-advancement program
Randall Mell, Golf Channel

LPGA and Symetra Tour pros can draw off future earnings in a new cash-advancement program while the game is shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. A source familiar with the program said it is based on where players fall on the LPGA priority category list.

Esports

Ghost Gaming CEO Says There is a ‘Distinct Possibility’ the Organization Will Fold
Kevin Hitt, The Esports Observer

Sources speaking on background have told The Esports Observer that North American esports organization Ghost Gaming will cease operations in the very near future. When contacted by The Esports Observer, the CEO of Ghost Gaming, Matt Dillon said, “There is a distinct possibility the organization will fold, however, we are looking at other options including a sale.”

ESL Establishes “Road to Rio” Qualifier for November Counter-Strike Major
Graham Ashton, The Esports Observer

ESL and Valve Corporation have revealed the “ESL One: Road to Rio” competition; the official qualifier for the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) Rio de Janeiro Major in November. Running from April 22-May 17 and featuring a $225K USD prize pool, the event will (like all ESL One events) be “powered by Intel,” and will be one of multiple online regional competitions planned this year.

General

UFC’s Dana White named as extortion victim in sex-tape case
Jeff German, Las Vegas Review-Journal

UFC President Dana White was named in a lawsuit filed late Friday as the alleged prominent Las Vegas businessman victimized in a $200,000 sex-tape extortion. Ernesto Joshua Ramos on Friday accused White in his lawsuit of breaking a deal in April 2016 to pay him $450,000 in return for not disclosing White’s name after the criminal case closed.

The $200 Million the Olympics Postponement Took From Team U.S.A.
Andrew Keh and Matthew Futterman, The New York Times

The anxiety is growing because the postponement has left the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee with a $200 million cash crunch that could leave athletes without the modest living and training stipends they rely on. The deficit comes while the committee simultaneously makes a push for the 2021 Summer Games and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing.

Under Armour to Furlough 6,600 U.S. Workers
Dave Sebastian and Khadeeja Safdar, The Wall Street Journal

Under Armour Inc. UA 8.56% said it is furloughing 6,600 workers at its U.S. retail stores and distribution centers beginning April 12, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Furloughed workers who are eligible for benefits will receive full health benefits for about two months, the company said Friday. 

Closed and Without March Madness Bets, Sports Betting Faces New Pressures
Alan Blinder and Kevin Draper, The New York Times

Casinos have been decimated in the economic reckoning brought on by the outbreak. According to the American Gaming Association, a trade group, 987 of the country’s 989 casinos were closed by early April, as efforts to stop the virus from spreading picked up.

Venue entry changed dramatically after 9/11; a similar shift may be coming
Daniel Kaplan, The Athletic

Sports are likely on the precipice of another quantum leap in how we get into venues, and not just how, but who is allowed in. Personal intrusions just weeks ago thought science fiction-like might be commonplace once we return to watch live sports.

Opinions, Editorials, Perspectives and Research

Can the sports industry survive the coronavirus shutdown?
Murad Ahmed et al., Financial Times

There is optimism in some quarters that the lockdown measures will be a short-term blip to business. But many sports executives believe there will be lasting disruption.

The Big Question for Sports: When Will You Feel Safe Around 20,000 Strangers Again?
Joshua Robinson et al., The Wall Street Journal

The people with the power are the ones who packed the stands. And sports will only be normal once the public decides it’s socially and psychologically acceptable to be around thousands of strangers again.

WrestleMania: Despite some flaws, WWE’s effort should be appreciated
Anthony Sulla-Heffinger, Yahoo Sports

It was a unique experiment in unprecedented times. We may not talk about this WrestleMania like WrestleMania III or 30, but there were still plenty of things that worked, even if there wasn’t anyone present to cheer them.

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