After last week announcing it would continue as planned with a virtual draft on April 17, the WNBA on Friday announced it would postpone its season, which was slated to tip-off on May 15, as the United States attempts to corral the coronavirus outbreak.
“While the league continues to use this time to conduct scenario-planning regarding new start dates and innovative formats, our guiding principle will continue to be the health and safety of the players, fans and employees,” league commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.
This news comes as WNBA teams prepare for the April 17 draft as well as training camp, which would have begun in late April or early May. Engelbert has emphasized the goal is still for the league to play in some capacity this year, especially after the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics erased a hole in the league’s schedule that would usually be carved out for players to participate.
Should the WNBA seek out a “bubble league,” as many have suggested for the NBA, in which all players, staff, and media involved are quarantined and vigorously tested, perhaps the effort could be easier than for the much larger NBA. The WNBA has smaller basketball operations staffs, as well as only 12 players on each of the league’s 12 rosters.
“One of our transformational goals is to expand the fandom, expand the reach of the W.N.B.A. beyond our 12 cities to get more exposure to our players in our potential fan population,” Engelbert told Howard Megdal of the New York Times last week. “So we could actually be creative here and think about other cities.”