Next month will mark two months since the NBA indefinitely suspended its season, and while we still have no idea when games will resume, the league has tentative plans to let some teams re-open their practice facilities as soon as May 8. However, the fact that only teams in states where stay-at-home orders are being relaxed will be granted access to their facilities has already raised a few eyebrows across the league.
On Saturday, Lakers forward Jared Dudley questioned the fairness of only certain teams having access to their practice facility:
This is very tricky... if this stay home order goes to June and some teams have a month access over others at their practice facility ♂️ https://t.co/YCNOLfDQ5Z— Jared Dudley (@JaredDudley619) April 26, 2020
Teams won’t be able to hold group workouts when the facilities re-open, but individual players will have access to their team’s regular facilities, which would, in theory, give said players a competitive edge once the season returns. That’s especially true now that players can’t seek out private gyms anymore, something that a few players on the Lakers had already done.
Additionally, there’s the concern that giving players and staff access to facilities too quickly could reverse any progress the league has made over the past two months, and that’s reportedly the No. 1 concern teams currently have — even more so than teams having a slight advantage:
NBA has received significant pushback from teams about idea of re-opening practice facilities in selected states and municipalities, team officials tell ESPN. Competive balance hasn't been issue -- player/staff safety has. Teams are still awaiting a more detailed NBA plan today.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 27, 2020
Of course, there are also teams that believe there would be no harm in giving their players a place to get back into shape, so long as precautions are taken:
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
Those precautions will include players wearing face masks, staff wearing gloves and physical distancing, according to a report by Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Sources: When NBA’s facilities open as soon as May 8, players must wear facemasks at all times, except when in physical activity; staffers working with players must wear gloves; physical distancing of at least 12 feet.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 27, 2020
The NBA also informed franchises that players must conduct a resting ECG and troponin test before they resume engaging in activities at facility. https://t.co/FiRXGVnGhD— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 27, 2020
The safer at home order in California won’t be lifted until at least May 15, so this doesn’t mean much for the Los Angeles Lakers in the immediate future. However, it does sort of indicate that the league sees a path to the season returning. Couple that with the report that the MLB also expected to get its season off the ground, eventually, and there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic.