Numerous new COVID-19 rules for coaches, bench players as NBA scrimmages tip-off
On the court, the NBA action that starts Wednesday night in Orlando with exhibition games will look like what remember (except for the 10-minute quarters).
On the sidelines, however, things will look very different, and not just because there will be no fans.
Players are spaced out along the bench and every player will have his own water station. Coaches and everyone not in the first row will wear masks. The statisticians will be courtside in a plexiglass box that looks like a hockey penalty box. Timeouts will look more like college basketball timeouts with players having movable seats to move away from the bench.
All of that is part of the new NBA COVID-19 rules for games, which teams were reminded of in a memo on Tuesday. Mike Singer of the Denver Post broke it down well on Twitter.
Latest NBA memo sent to teams tonight and obtained by @DPostSports reminds teams of procedures for scrimmages and game days.— Mike Singer (@msinger) July 22, 2020
- Teams don’t need to submit active list, similar to a preseason game
- Benches divided into 3 sections (Players, coaches, unassigned)
- Assigned seats
- Active players and four first-row coaches don’t need to wear masks— Mike Singer (@msinger) July 22, 2020
- All remaining personnel does
- Masks must be licensed by NBA
- Face masks can’t include any words, messages, symbols, logos or promotions
- May not be an N-95 mask
- Each timeout or stoppage, teams will utilize movable timeout chairs so players can huddle away from team benches.— Mike Singer (@msinger) July 22, 2020
Those chairs get cleaned by team staff between timeouts.
All of those steps promote safety and none impacts the flow of the game. The NBA also has been flexible in adapting its rules in the bubble and will do the same for games — what looks good on paper and what works in practice are often two different things.
Put all those new rules on the new NBA courts for games and things are going to look and feel a little different.
Still, the game inside the lines should be the one we all know and love (even if a lot of star players will see very limited minutes in these scrimmages). It will be good to see NBA basketball back on the court.