On April 25, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA was planning to allow teams to “open their practice facilities to players in cities and states where local governments have eased stay-at-home orders,” starting on May 1.
But on April 27, a widespread backtrack on that plan appears to be in order. First, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Hawks had changed course on their plan to reopen their team facility to players on May 1.
Hawks President of Basketball Operations/GM Travis Schlenk tells ESPN that Hawks won’t be opening team facility to players Friday. “We are going to wait and see what happens in the state over the couple of weeks,” Schlenk tells ESPN. Georgia relaxed stay-at-home policies.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 27, 2020
Then, in a release distributed Monday, the NBA announced it is planning to “modify its guidance” regarding the reopening of facilities and player training, and is now targeting a date to implement said guidelines that is “no earlier than Friday, May 8.” Even that date, though, is flexible if circumstances demand it be pushed back again.
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
New story soon ESPN, but to be clear: The NBA was already working to push back its initial May 1 date to re-open facilities independent of Atlanta's decision to delay its own re-opening. The league was getting feedback from all corners on the issue. https://t.co/Wy7bOPDwST— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 27, 2020
“The potential rule changes would allow teams to make their practice facilities available for use by the team’s players for workouts or treatment on a voluntary, individual basis if the team’s facility is in a city that is no longer subject to a government restriction,” a release from the league said.
The NBA also set out four restrictions for if and when these new rules are implemented. The following bullets are enumerated verbatim from the league’s release:
No more than four players would be permitted at a facility at any one time
No head or assistant coaches could participate
Group activity remains prohibited, including practices or scrimmages
Players remain prohibited from using non-team facilities such as public health clubs, fitness centers, or gyms
A maximum of one team staffer (wearing gloves and distanced 12 feet apart) per player would be allowed in the facilities, players would be required to wear facemasks at all times except for when engaging in physical activity, and all players would be required to conduct a resting ECG and troponin test before resuming activities at their respective facilities — all via reporting by Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Teams will be required to hire a “Facility Hygiene Officer,” also according to Charania.
Wojnarowski reported in later tweets that some teams are still “embracing” the idea of reopening facilities. But Charania reported that, in a memo to teams, the NBA emphasized that accessible testing remains a significant obstacle while the wider world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic:
NBA has informed its teams of this reality in a memo, per sources: “It is not possible or appropriate in the current public health context to regularly test all players and staff for COVID-19.” These protocols may be modified.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 27, 2020
None of the above appears to have any immediate bearing on the league resuming play. On that point, we’re still in wait and see mode.