The complication seems to be that Roseanne Barr — who posted a racist tweet that prompted the network to cancel the series in the first place — is credited as a creator of the show and its characters, so she would still benefit financially from a continuation.
Going the route of creating a spin-off could be an issue as it would keep Barr involved, and ABC appears to be trying to distance themselves from her as much as possible.
Part of why the network is potentially considering keeping the actors around is due to the fact that they have already signed them for a 13-episode second season, of which they and the production company, Carsey-Werner, are financially responsible for.
Since they will have to be dishing out money anyway, it could be in their best interests to find a way to get something of it that can generate more ad revenue, rather than just going to pay cancellation fees.
Interestingly, some of the shows writers will be sticking around ABC, as noted by executive producer Dave Caplan, who told reporters that he and Roseanne executive producers Bruce Helford and Bruce Rasmussen have other plans.
"[They] have a pilot project with Tom Werner for ABC, and we'll continue working together," Caplan said. "I know that Tom really regretted the fact that we had such a wonderful writing staff together — a real rare collection of talent — and I know he'd like to continue using it in some fashion if that were possible."
There has also been unrelated speculation that Fox could pick up the show, but the network has not commented on that possibility at this time.
While Barr has had her supporters throughout the backlash — after tweeting out a racist comment about a former aide to Barack Obama — the question Fox, or any network or streaming service has to ask is, "Would there be enough viewers left?"
Even with Barr having issued an apology for her comment, it's unlikely that the series could continue on another network and still hit the same level of ratings that it was at before her comment, as the outcry against her has been quite significant.