The NBA took a small step towards returning this month when it allowed some of its teams to reopen their practice facilities, including three teams — the Los Angeles Lakers, L.A. Clippers, and Sacramento Kings — in California, where some of the most restrictive stay-at-home orders in the United States are still in place.
But as those measures continue to be slowly and carefully relaxed in California, the possibility of pro sports resuming in the state grows, and in a news conference on Monday, California governor Gavin Newsom said that professional sports could return — without fans in attendance — as soon as June. However, he cautioned that the situation is fluid, and that all decisions will be made in the public’s best interest:
California Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state could see pro sports return by the first week of June without fans. pic.twitter.com/j4PPg56Yn7— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 18, 2020
“Sporting events, pro sports, in that first week or so of June, without spectators, and modifications, and very prescriptive conditions, also can begin to move forward, and a number of other sectors of our economy will open up again if we hold these trend lines in the next number of weeks.”
What does that mean for the NBA? From what we know, not much.
The NBA has determined that the safest way to finish the season would be in a bubble city, and according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the two cities that are currently being considered are Las Vegas and Orlando, also known as “not California.” Wojnarowski notes that several other cities have inquired about hosting the NBA, but it seems Las Vegas and Orlando have an edge.
What this could mean, though, is that teams might be able to resume full practices as soon as June, which could lead to the start of the NBA’s training camp before the start of the season. That would be the most movement the NBA has had in a long time, and would likely push the league closer to having a set return date. These are all good things.
Now, other states would have to cooperate too, but if California is ready to allow professional sports teams to resume business, it’s safe to assume other states will follow.