WNBA commissioner: League focusing on scenarios to play

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert says the league is focusing on a half dozen scenarios to play this summer

NEW YORK -- WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert is focusing on about a half dozen scenarios for the league to begin play this summer

Engelbert did not go into detail about each scenario, but told The Associated Press Friday that the league is looking at playing at one site, a few possibly at most instead of at every home arena.

“I feel really good about how things are now evolving and settling,” Engelbert said in a phone interview. “There's still no date (to start the season). We have had a variety of conversations moving forward. None are without challenge."

Despite the challenges, the commissioner is optimistic “”we can have a season this summer."

“We haven’t taken off the table having a full season while other scenarios have a reduced amount of games," the commissioner said. "A lot depends on the trajectory and restrictions in markets.”

The commissioner feels she knows a lot more about the logistical and operational challenges, as well the financial and medical hurdles, than she did when she postponed the start of the season at the beginning of April.

Engelbert said that testing for the virus is obviously a big component to having a season. She is encouraged by the increase in the number of tests and the availability of them over the last two months.

“Things are starting to open and starting to settle,” she said. “Medical experts are starting to feel better about testing and protocols, There's still a lot of things to get through.”

She said many of the scenarios being reviewed have games being played without fans, but said if that happens, the league would be working with its broadcast partners to help expand the fan experience.

Engelbert said while the WNBA is in constant contact with the NBA and shares many resources including medical experts, it was unlikely that the two leagues would play in the same city and venues.

“I think it might behoove us to have our own sites certainly,” she said. “From the NBA or other professional sports. Many of the leagues are looking at the same cities.”

The commissioner said that the league would start paying its players on June 1 — the date they were scheduled to start getting paid for the season. But there are still ongoing talks between the union and the league.

The salary talks with the union include how the pay will work, roster size and salary cap that teams will have. The commissioner expects to have more details worked out before the first check is cut. Most teams have already cut down their rosters to 15 players with a couple still at 16.

It's very possible the teams could have to get down to 12 players to fit under the cap by June 1, which means some could get cut without ever being in training camp.

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