Mavericks owner Cuban sees NBA return, but no idea when

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on Wednesday he expects the NBA will have some sort of resumption to a season halted by coronavirus but has no clue when it might start.

The 61-year-old US billionaire said there haven't been talks about when the league might return after shutting down on 11 March after Utah's Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.

"I have no idea... I haven't had any conversations where anybody has even discussed an actual date at this point," Cuban said on ESPN.

"It's not happening until we can be certain everybody can be absolutely safe. Who knows? We have to listen to the scientists now."

Cuban sees the NBA playing a vital role to boosting American spirits once it becomes safe to return to the court in the wake of the deadly virus.

"I really do think we'll have something," Cuban said.

"It's too important to the United States. We just need it right now.

"We need to be high-fiving somebody. We also have to be confident we set the right example.

"There's a whole country that's looking for somebody to cheer for."

People in major US cities have taken to applauding medical workers and first responders at nights as a way of showing support while staying in quarantine to slow the virus' spread.

Cuban sees the NBA as a morale lifter in a tough time, an impact that could stretch worldwide.

"I'm not speaking for the NBA. My underlying principle is sports are great for America," Cuban said.

"It's a great opportunity and responsibility for the NBA to lead the way and try and lift the spirits of America."

Cuban stressed that any plan to restart the NBA season and conduct playoffs must come "as long as we're not putting anybody in danger when we come back. As long as the scientists bless it absolutely. As long as it's safe."

Testing players for coronavirus would likely be required for any resumption plan, and those tests remain in tight supply, some even criticizing the NBA for getting access to tests when even hospitals had tough times to get them.

But Cuban envisions a day coming soon when tests will be easier to obtain and produce results much faster.

"There's no reason we should be given priority over any American citizen," Cuban said.

"We're not talking about today. We're talking about someday in the future. If it was today, no. But 30, 60, 90 days from now, I think there will be enough tests."

The NBA has 259 regular-season games remaining plus playoffs, which typically last two months.

The league has reportedly talked with the players union about keeping 25 percent of player salaries in an escrow fund in case games are cancelled, triggering a force majeure clause in the NBA-players' agreement.

The money would go back to players if the season was completed. 

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