The NBA, like the rest of the sports leagues in the United States, was significantly impacted by the concern over the coronavirus. That forced an immediate suspension of the 2019-20 season that left some doubt that things could be resumed at a later date. The NBA has managed to work through the situation with the league and the team owners working out a set plan to get back on the court by the end of next month. With that in mind, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ chances to capitalize on their impressive campaign means much more than competing for a championship.
2019-20 NBA season set to resume
In early March, the NBA acted quickly to suspend their season after discovering that Utah Jazz star center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus. Shortly after that, his teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested for the virus.
Since then, the NBA patiently worked toward finding a window of time to hammer out a return date for the 2019-20 season. That has come this past week with the league working out a format that will involve 22 of the 30 teams that will see the final eight games of the regular season to be played at the Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.
The format also includes a possible play-in tournament for the eighth seed if things play out in that manner. The expected return of the season also means a significant cash-in for the Lakers.
Lakers set to make $12 million
The Lakers are one of the teams that are pinned as a favorite to secure the NBA title with the season set to resume on July 31.
The NBA’s decision to put forth the new format with eight regular-season games to play gives Los Angeles the chance to earn around $12 million for the remaining scheduled games, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic.
To wit: Sources say the Lakers pull in approximately $1.5 million per game from their RSN deal with Spectrum SportsNet, meaning they’ll recoup $12 million from those games in all while losing an estimated $8 million because the schedule won’t be completed. As I wrote in March of 2019, the first round is a bigger money-maker for teams than the last three rounds because teams still hold local television and radio rights before yielding in the second round. For league-wide perspective, one of the lower-end RSN deals that I’ve heard of pays approximately $200,000 per game.
Although the Lakers, like many other teams, will be losing a significant income from the games lost, it does help fill the gaps a bit with $12 million coming in. The team is amid a 20-year, $4 billion deal with Spectrum SportsNet that they inked back in 2011.
The Lakers are one of the league’s biggest brands, which only makes the return of the season that much more financially lucrative for the franchise. Beyond that, the team could potentially get back to the mountaintop of the league in the coming months.
Lakers’ championship odds
With the wheels set in motion for the NBA returning next month, it pivots the conversation toward championship contenders. The Lakers are among the teams at the top of the list as they held one of the league’s best record before the season stoppage.
Los Angeles demonstrated plenty of balance on both sides of the ball with their veteran-laden roster led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The layoff does put a bit of a damper with players needing to get back in shape, but it does allow for James and Davis to come back healthy as they were becoming worn physically throughout the season.
It won’t be an easy path by any means for the Lakers as the LA Clippers are pinned as the top challenger in the Western Conference while teams such as the Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets are in the picture as well. The Milwaukee Bucks are believed to be the Eastern Conference’s favorites, but teams like Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors could pose a significant challenge.
If things stay on the path toward the season returning, the Lakers will be in the mix to secure their 17th NBA title.