Injury concerns aren’t at the forefront of the issues regarding the NBA’s return to the 2019-20 season, but it’s something that many young players are voicing their opinions about.
Two former Kentucky Wildcats, Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat and De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings, are among a group of five athletes worried about the potential financial issues that could arise if they were to suffer a serious injury when the season resumes in late July. According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, Adebayo essentially wants some “insurance” to ensure he’ll be protected in the event of a career-ending injury.
“Our whole thing was, ‘Look, we’re all due for extensions and we want to make sure that going into this bubble we are safe and we don’t get hurt,’” Adebayo said, according to Reynolds. “If we get hurt, we still have some backups … something in the back pocket that ensures that we still get paid.”
Adebayo and Fox, along with rising superstars Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, and Kyle Kuzma made up the group of players in their early 20s concerned about the issue. These five all expressed the same thoughts on a video call last Friday that featured roughly 80 players. Upcoming contract extensions for these players could surpass $100 million in total money.
“Those are still ongoing discussions with the league, but there’s no question Bam and others in that situation are concerned about this,” Michelle Roberts, executive director of the NBPA, told The Associated Press. “These are issues that are part of the world that we live in and … these circumstances are unique; he hasn’t played in a while and we have this virus. So, because of the unique circumstances, we are working with the league to get Bam and other players assurances that they are going to be protected.”
Reynolds reported that such a policy would cost in the neighborhood of $400,000 per player. ESPN reported it could cost in the $500,000 range. Adebayo did say that he and his group want to play, but also that they need to assess the situation realistically with a clear plan for the future. He already isn’t optimistic that players will be able to jump back into the swing of things without a significant risk for injury.
“I hope nobody gets injured, but I think a lot of people will get injured,” Adebayo said.
Adebayo, Fox, and the three others aren’t just worried about their own futures, however. ESPN also reported that they are representing a whole batch of fellow NBA players that should receive insurance policies, too.