After a weekend report suggested the NBA was aiming to allow teams to reopen their practice facilities as early as May 1, the league has told teams that its new target date is Friday, May 8, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). The league’s full announcement can be found right here.
The NBA is hoping to allow teams to open facilities for voluntary individual workouts if the stay-at-home orders in their respective home states allow, but will wait at least another week-and-a-half to move forward with that plan.
Assuming it sticks to the May 8 target date, the league will allow up to four players in a facility at a time, with no more than one team staffer in attendance, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Group activities will remain prohibited and head and assistant coaches can’t participate. Additionally, players would be required to wear face masks at all times except when engaged in physical activity, and staffers working with players must wear gloves and practice social-distancing of at least 12 feet, according to Charania (Twitter link).
The NBA had received “significant pushback” from teams about the idea of reopening facilities in select states and municipalities on May 1, officials tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). While competitive imbalance is a potential issue – given the disparity between how certain states are handling the pandemic – teams are more concerned about player and staff safety, says Wojnarowski.
The Hawks were one team that appeared to be a strong candidate to reopen their facilities this Friday, if permitted, since Georgia is among the first states to roll back stay-at-home restrictions. However, as general manager Travis Schlenk first told TV host Matt Stewart (Twitter link), the Hawks didn’t plan to reopen their facilities this week, preferring to play it safe and assess the effects of the loosened restrictions in the area.
“We’re going to put the health of our players and staff at the forefront,” Schlenk told Sarah Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Despite the Hawks’ reticence and some league-wide pushback on the initial May 1 date, there have been other teams embracing the idea of reopening their facilities, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). As Woj explains, those clubs would prefer players to be in a “clean, safe, and monitored team environment” rather than risking those players working out at public gyms.
Relatedly, clubs were reminded today that their players remain prohibited from using non-team facilities such as public health centers and gyms for workouts, as Charania reports (via Twitter).