According to multiple reports, however, the latter option will no longer be available to them, or any players on the league’s other 29 teams:
Teams were informed today in a memo about facilities closing --with players being encouraged to take aggressive measures to continue to avoid contact with others and remain home as much as possible. https://t.co/3OedPb4qFt— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 19, 2020
Not only are practice facilities closed to players beginning tomorrow, per today's memo, but they remain prohibited from using public health clubs, fitness centers, gyms, college facilities, or the like. In effect: the NBA's players can't work out anywhere.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) March 19, 2020
Players will not be allowed to travel outside of North America, league tells teams in a memo. https://t.co/6xLWddo2LC— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 19, 2020
Teams had been encourging of idea of shuttering faciltiies for immediate future. As much as franchises wanted players to have an outlet to come get work in, teams and league were uneasy about contact even in that limited environment. This was an inevitable move for a long hiatus.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 19, 2020
As Woj notes, this probably was always the way things were going to go, even if the Lakers were taking precautions while doing these workouts, such as taking players’ temperatures at the door, making sure they only worked out with a single assistant coach, and sanitizing their hands and the ball immediately before and after each workout. This virus is just too contagious, and too many cities are imposing restrictions on what buildings are allowed to be open, for the Lakers (or any other team) to still be allowed to remain open, even if they already weren’t having group practices.
It was already hard to imagine NBA players being in anywhere close to basketball shape when and if the season resumes, and this move makes that even more unlikely. Some players likely have places to shoot around at home, but solitary shooting, running on a treadmill, lifting weights or other such workouts are hardly a substitute for NBA basketball.
This shift will likely affect almost every team just about equally, but these players are going to be rusty if they do come back and jump right into some sort of abbreviated postseason this year.
Still, the league shutting down in the wake of Rudy Gobert’s coronavirus diagnosis did seem to be a watershed moment in the United States’ response to the threat of COVID-19, the first domino that triggered a wave of other sports to cancel or suspend their seasons and events, emphasizing to people how serious this threat is. Perhaps this latest measure can be a public example to highlight the importance of social distancing, and set a good example for people as a reminder that we should all be staying as solitary and close to home as possible as our society works to slow the spread of this thing.