The US National Basketball Association (NBA) says that players who decline to play in the restarted season in the state of Florida next month must let their clubs know by June 24 and will face having their pay docked by up to 14 games.
ESPN.com reported that the NBA Players Association informed its members on Tuesday that they have until June 24 to make a decision whether to take part in the games at the Walt Disney World resort in Orlando, Florida.
The owners and the union have worked out a deal which would see any player who decides to sit out the rest of the season have their compensation cut for each game skipped up to a maximum of 14 games.
“It may not be for everyone,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said of the league’s return-to-play plan.
“It will entail enormous sacrifice – of those players and for everyone involved – the coaches, the referees.”
Several NBA players, including Los Angeles Lakers Dwight Howard, have bypassed the players’ union and voiced their opposition to resuming the season as a protest against racial discrimination and police brutality in the US.
The Lakers backup centre Howard told CNN that now is not the time to resume basketball in light of the protests that broke out across the US following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minnesota police officer last month.
Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving also reportedly lobbied fellow players on Friday to sit out the scheduled resumption of play as a protest against racism.
Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a veteran police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes. His death sparked global protests, some of which turned violent.
Sports teams throughout the country have spoken out publicly against racism, with several teams taking part in the demonstrations.
Silver said players who decide to miss the rest of the season will not be considered “in breach of contract”.
Some NBA players could be given exemptions from the pay cuts if they can show they are at a higher risk for the new coronavirus.
Silver argued that Orlando would be an ideal opportunity for the players to get together in a tight-knit setting and work on social justice issues and police reform.
“For us, we feel this is what we do. We put on NBA basketball,” the commissioner said. “For the country, it will be respite from enormous difficulties people are dealing with in their lives right now.
“I also think in terms of the social justice issues, it will be an opportunity for NBA players and the greater community to draw attention to these issues.
“Because the world’s attention will be on the NBA in Orlando, Florida, if we’re able to pull this off.”
The NBA hasn’t played since March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Training camp is set to be held from July 9-29 before the season restarts on July 30.