As the NBA continues to sort through scenarios that could (hopefully) have them resume the season in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the US (and the rest of the world), individual states are beginning to re-open parts of the economy via the lifting of restrictions and easing of stay-at-home orders.
California is one such state, though not to the levels as other…shall we call them…more aggressive parts of the nation. Governor Gavin Newsom recently spelled out certain businesses that can resume limited operations should they comply with soon to be released protocols and terms to do so. Considering California’s early adoption of shelter-in-place orders, these steps are a signal of positive progress.
That, then, is the backdrop for The Athletic’s Shams Charania’s report on Wednesday stating that the Lakers are targeting May 16th as the date they hope to re-open their practice facility and allow voluntary workouts from their players:
Of course, the Lakers will not be alone in this. More reporting from Charania detailed that the NBA has said that team facilities could open as soon as May 8th if restrictions in their area had been lifted.1This will apply to several teams from states that, as mentioned earlier, have already loosened restrictions on many types of businesses that can re-open. Then, Sam Amick reported that the Kings will open their facility on Monday, May 11th under an order from the Sacramento County Health Officer that allows for recreation facilities to open with specific protocols in place.
Should the Lakers get their wish and be able to join the fray of NBA teams who can have players back to work in their own facilities, there will still be limits on what can be done at the facility and who can even be there.
These will be individual workouts only, with social distancing and other measures in place. Further, teams can designate only 6 members of the organization who can be present at a workout, with no more than 4 present at any given time. Further, one of those 6 representatives cannot be the head coach.
So, even as things move forward, it is at a snail’s pace. And while this is surely progress, the steps to go from individual workouts to full-blown NBA games (even those without fans) is canyon-esque and should not be looked at as being close at all. These measures that would allow players to get workouts in at team facilities could certainly offer access to equipment that many players do not have at home and, probably, even serve as a nice boost in the mental health of players who could use a boost of morale during a time where their seasons were cut off entirely.
But, let’s be real, we’re a long ways off from the return of the season. If it comes back at all. Because, let’s face it, all it will take is another player to test positive or, worse, for a player or team staff member to catch it/initiate spread at one of these open facilities and this will all get shut down again instantly. And while I’m certainly hoping for the best and for that to not happen, the reality of our current circumstances makes this a possibility we certainly have to account for.