Over the weekend, it was announced that the NBA would allow teams in markets with relaxed stay-at-home orders to open their practice facilities starting this Friday, May 1. That move was met with a great deal of surprise from front offices throughout the league. Some of them learned about the news from ESPN rather than the NBA; others thought it was too soon for facilities to re-open.
Travis Schlenk, the Atlanta Hawks president of basketball operations, said their team would not open the training center to players despite Georgia’s loosening of restrictions, at least not right away. Players also expressed concern that teams in these markets would gain an unfair advantage in terms of practice time.
As a result, the NBA delayed its plan to next Friday, May 8, and sent out a 16-page memo with rules that teams must follow regarding workouts. Among those restrictions are a limit of four players in the building with physical distancing at all times, no coaches, and players have to wear masks when they are not engaged in physical activity. Players are only allowed to work out at their own team’s facility. Teams are also required to appoint a Facility Hygiene Officer to oversee cooperation with the pandemic protocol.
Those restrictions suggest that the league is making incremental progress at best towards resuming operations, and seem to present no real advantage to teams with open training centers. Teams like the Clippers, who are in a market with a strict shelter-in-place order, won’t be left behind by a team that can have four players at separate baskets shooting around.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN lent some clarity to the situation on SportsCenter Monday. He said that the NBA’s motivation in allowing practice facilities to open was to prevent players from flying to other states to work out in public gyms. Even players who can work out in their team’s buildings with be significantly limited in what they can do.
Another important takeaway from Wojnarowski’s segment is his belief that the NBA is “more willing than ever to delay the start of next season.” Although some might think the league wouldn’t want to sacrifice future years to play a modified and delayed postseason, Wojnarowski suggests that the NBA isn’t interested in starting next year without fans. They likely wouldn’t be able to fill arenas in October at the normal start date, so moving back the 2020-21 calendar doesn’t really concern them.
Therefore, what appears to be glacial progress might be a pace that works just fine for the league office.
On to the links...
- This one’s a little old, but here’s a really interesting look at how the NBA could conduct operations at Walt Disney World.
- Doc Rivers has been giving Rams coach coach Sean McVay advice on how to use Zoom with his players.
- Rivers also sought out his own advice from NBA coaching legend Phil Jackson.
- Several team owners committed to paying hourly workers during the coronavirus shutdown. USA Today checked to see who’s following through on those promises.
- A message from Clippers broadcaster Brian Sieman.