According to multiple reports, only a few players participated, and were only allowed to do individual workouts. It has been previously reported that head coaches are not allowed to oversee these sessions, and players have to remain strictly physically distanced on one of the four baskets in the main gym area of the UCLA Health Training Center.
The Lakers facility opened today exclusively for individual player workouts under a strict protocol from the NBA and team docs with guidance from government health officials. Activities fall under the “rehabilitation and physical wellness” category of the LA county health order.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) May 16, 2020
Less than a handful of players are scheduled to make use of the Lakers facility today. Local public health officials deemed that use of the facility for individual sessions fell under “rehabilitation and physical wellness,” which is why they were allowed to open.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) May 16, 2020
Interestingly, the LA Clippers have reportedly not opened back up yet despite almost assuredly being held to similar standards as the Lakers, but in light of this information on why the Lakers were allowed to, it seems likely that the Clippers will re-open under a similar designation soon.
And even if only a few Lakers — we don’t know which ones — came back to the gym today, there are practical reasons for that. For one, as previously mentioned, there can only be a few players in the facility at any one time. As a result, they’ll probably have to spread out their returns over the next few days, and there is no rush to get everyone back at the same time because they can’t practice together.
Additionally, not even every member of the Lakers is in town. Veteran center Dwight Howard, for example, told reporters during a Zoom meeting on Friday that he is home in Georgia with his family and won’t come back to Los Angeles until things are more opened up and its safer to fly. He may not be the only Laker that has left.
But despite those caveats, this is a good step in the right direction as the NBA attempts to move closer to a return to play. It remains to be seen what the league’s next moves will be, but presumably if this step goes well and a return-to-play plan can be agreed upon by the relevant parties, team practices can’t be too far in the distance.
Basketball, slowly but surely, seems to be getting a little closer to being back. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that this can all be done safely.