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Sources — NBA owners leaning toward playing without fans amid coronavirus outbreak – ESPN

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The NBA’s board of governors attained a consensus on Wednesday to continue the season playing games without fans in arenas amid the coronavirus crisis, and commissioner Adam Silver is expected to move in that direction with a decision on Thursday, sources told ESPN.

The owners talked via teleconference Wednesday and discussed various ways to allow games to be played and televised during the coronavirus outbreak, but the notion of the league doing so in empty arenas generated much greater consensus, sources said.

Several teams were willing to put the games on hiatus, but the rest wanted to move toward eliminating fans from arenas to continue playing games, sources told ESPN. One team wanted to keep the status quo until a governmental/public mandate dictated change.

In a meeting on the coronavirus crisis earlier Wednesday, the league and the National Basketball Players Association explored how to continue the season without the cancellation or loss of games — while conceding the sport was trending toward a period of time without fans in attendance at arenas, sources said. The NBA is bracing for losses in the hundreds of millions of dollars across the sport, sources said earlier Wednesday.

Those discussions were a prelude to the larger conference call with the board of governors later Wednesday.

As reported on Tuesday, league sources told ESPN that one scenario introduced into the league’s conversation about enacting temporary measures in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak involves moving some games to NBA cities that have yet to suffer outbreaks.

If the virus clusters and forces a team out of its city and arena for a period of time, there has been discussion about moving games to the away opponent’s arena if that city hasn’t suffered an outbreak — or even moving games to neutral cities and sites, league sources told ESPN.

Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors announced earlier Wednesday that they will play Thursday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets with no fans inside Chase Center in response to coronavirus concerns.

The team’s decision followed an order from the San Francisco Department of Public Health prohibiting events where 1,000 or more people assemble. The Warriors tweeted that other events at Chase Center through March 21 — consisting of three concerts and a G League game — would be canceled or postponed.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe contributed to this report.

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