The NBA will reportedly allow certain teams to reopen their practice facilities, as the 2019-2020 season remains in limbo.
Sources tell ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that beginning May 1, teams can reopen facilities in areas where social distancing restrictions have been eased. Though group workouts will remain prohibited, insiders say players will be allowed to use the facilities for individual work on a voluntary basis.
The news comes just days after Vice President Mike Pence announced 16 states have presented plans to lift the coronavirus stay-at-home orders. The states included Pennsylvania, Oregon, Idaho, and presumably Georgia, which began reopening its economy earlier this week. Sources say the league is working on "other arrangements" for teams in markets where restrictions have yet to be lifted.
"As Georgia moves toward opening certain businesses — including gymnasiums — some players were asking their teams if they should consider traveling there to find a way to play," Wojnarowski tweeted. "Organizations wants players in safe/clean team environments, not a fitness center in suburban Atlanta."
Insiders stressed that the decision to reopen certain practice facilities does not mean the 2019-2020 season will resume, as the league "is still unsure on if/when it can play again."
Wojnarowski later added that teams have given the NBA pushback against the idea, with team officials telling ESPN that player and staff safety is priority. "There's some exepctation the NBA could move that re-opening date back from Friday -- perhaps a week or so," he added, with teams still holding out to see "how the loosening of restrictions impacts region."
The NBA has reportedly told franchises that it is targetting May 8 to reallow the use of any team's practice facility.
Despite pushback among many franchises, there are still other teams embracing idea of re-opening facilities, believing that a clean, safe and monitored team environment is needed now to keep players from potentially searching out less safe gymnasium environments to stay in shape.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 27, 2020
NBA has informed its teams of this reality in a memo, per sources: “It is not possible or appropriate in the current public health context to regularly test all players and staff for COVID-19.” These protocols may be modified.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 27, 2020
Shams Charania added, per his sources, that upon facilities reopening “as soon as May 8, players must wear facemasks at all times, except when in physical activity.” Staff members involved with players will need to wear gloves, and teams will reportedly be individually assigning senior execs to a position called Facility Hygiene Officer.
The NBA suspended its season back in March, after a number of players tested positive for the novel coronavirus. NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the possibilities of canceling the season during a video conference with team owners earlier this month.
"I don't mean to send any signals about the likelihood or not of restarting the season," Silver said, as reported by USA Today. "All I can say is we're still at a point where we don't have enough information to make a decision."
He went on to say the league has not ruled out the possibility of resuming the regular season: "It’s absolutely still an option. Everything is on the table."