The NBA announced last month that May 8 would be the earliest day to reopen team practice facilities for player workouts. In doing so, the NBA set rules to allow for safe and controlled environments for players to train that include having no more than four players in the facility at any one time, and no head or assistant coaches participating. The league will also prohibit group activities such as scrimmages.
Here are the latest dispatches from around the NBA as some teams prepare to reopen those facilities.
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says teams in his state can return to their facilities for training after a pause of more than two months.
“Starting today, all the New York professional sports leagues will be able to begin training camps,” the Democratic governor said during a news conference Sunday.
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Minnesota has earmarked May 21 as the date it will reopen its Mayo Clinic Square practice facility for players to use for workouts. Via a statement from the team released May 20, the Wolves said strict protocols have been designed to ensure the players' access to the facility will take place in a "safe, controlled and healthy way."
As with other teams that have already opened workout facilities, the Wolves are following the guidelines set forth by the NBA as well as local disease experts and public health authorities.
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In New Orleans on Monday, the Pelicans officially reopened the Ochsner Sports Performance Center for players to use under the current guidelines. Seven players, reports Pelicans.com's Jim Eichenhofer, are set to take advantage of that opportunity this week in separate, socially-distanced individual workouts.
Pelicans executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin held a conference call with reporters on Monday and would not reveal which players specifically took part in utilizing the facility. However, he did state that star rookie Zion Williamson and big man Kenrich Williams have both been at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center recently to get treatment.
Seven #Pelicans players are returning to the hardwood at team's practice facility this week, per David Griffin. Zion Williamson (photo below is from October training camp) among New Orleans roster members getting back in the gym: https://t.co/rKunwXwBfBpic.twitter.com/4w84ADWuTm— Jim Eichenhofer (@Jim_Eichenhofer) May 18, 2020
Asked for his confidence level in a return to basketball, Griffin said, “If we can find a way to a healthy environment – one that our players can embrace and one that public-health officials can get behind – I know it’s the league’s intention to play. Knowing Adam Silver’s group as well as we do, I’m pretty confident that when they put their minds to it, good things tend to happen.”
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The LA Clippers are reportedly opening their practice facility for players to conduct "limited, voluntary, rehabilitation and physical wellness activities" beginning Monday, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times.
Starting Monday, the Clippers are reopening their practice facility for players to conduct limited, voluntary, rehabilitation and physical wellness activities, a source told @latimessports.— Andrew Greif (@AndrewGreif) May 18, 2020
According to a report from SI.com, the team has tested every player for COVID-19, which helped lead to the decision to prompt the decision to become the 16th team to reopen its training facility.
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The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly allowed voluntary workouts inside the team facility this weekend. The Athletic's Shams Charania reports that after the Lakers received clearance from L.A. government and health officials, the decision was made to reopen its doors to players on Saturday.
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
The workouts are in line with NBA protocol, such as allowing no more than four players in the facility at one time. Charania reports the Lakers will not have their facility open all seven days a week, but instead on a "limited basis." The Lakers join several other teams that are allowing players to participate in voluntary workouts away from the confines of their homes.
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Orlando opened its AdventHealth Practice Facility on May 14, one day after it planned to do so. In a welcome sign for Magic fans, though, All-Star center Nikola Vucevic was among the first players to show up at the facility and video footage of him working out was posted to the team's Twitter account.
Magic team equipment manager Jacob Diamond shot video of Vucevic's workout, which he took part in with Orlando's associate coach for player development, Lionel Chalmers. A few hours later, Vucevic participated in a Q&A session on Twitter as part of the NBA Together initiative.
With Miami re-opening its doors Wednesday, 10 of the league’s 30 teams have gone forward with on-court individual workouts — the first permitted sessions since the league ordered teams to close their training facilities as part of the coronavirus pandemic response about two months ago.
The competitive juices were back flowing today inside our @AAarena practice facility thanks to @ThisIsUD ⚓️#OG40 talks about his first day back working and smiling with his teammates. #HEATCulturepic.twitter.com/HVeZD4ZW1F— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 13, 2020
Besides the Heat, the other teams that have opened so far are Portland, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta, Indiana, Sacramento, Toronto and Utah. More are expected in the coming days; among them, Orlando is close, and the Los Angeles Lakers are targeting Saturday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has deprived Larry Nance Jr. of his greatest passion and his profession, which is why the Cleveland Cavaliers forward was grateful to get back on a real court -- even for a short while.
Nance is one of the few NBA players who have been able to work out after teams were granted permission to reopen their training facilities, which have been closed nearly two months by a virus outbreak that has paused the season and placed its conclusion in peril.
Nance returned to the Cavs’ complex on Friday, and for two hours, the 27-year-old felt whole again.
“This is the longest I haven’t played a game of basketball in my entire life,” he said Tuesday on a Zoom conference call.
Last week, the Miami Heat had reportedly targeted May 11 as their date to re-open their practice facility at AmericanAirlines Arena. That date has come and gone without players in the facility, but that won't be the case anymore come Wednesday, reports Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.
Miami's plan, Chiang writes, is to limit workouts at the arena to three days per week starting May 13. Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala and Solomon Hill have been quarantining in California, making them the only Heat players to do so outside of South Florida. That trio will not return to Miami for the start of workouts as they are awaiting further information on the NBA's plan for the rest of the season.
Per the Miami Herald, the Heat issued antibody tests to players and staff last week and results were expected to be in Wednesday as part of the Mayo Clinic Coronavirus Antibody Study. However, the Heat have not yet received local clearance to administer COVID-19 tests to asymptomatic players and staff.
It is unknown how many players will consistently use AmericanAirlines Arena's practice facility for workouts.
After setting a May 12 timeframe to open their team facilities, the Orlando Magic's date to do so has been pushed back at least one day -- if not longer. Per the Orlando Sentinel's Roy Parry, the Magic are still awaiting the COVID-19 test results for players and staff who will be taking place in the workouts.
A team spokesman told the newspaper that the May 13 reopen date is subject to change. On Tuesday, the Magic got authorization from Orange County Department of Health officer Dr. Raul Pino that a robust COVID-19 testing program exists in the area for healthcare workers, and asymptomatic testing is taking place in Orange County.
It is unclear exactly how many or which players showed up, but the Zions Bank Basketball Campus in Salt Lake City was somewhat busy again on Monday after months of inactivity. Per the Jazz, a "handful" of Utah players took part in voluntary workouts in accordance with Utah Department of Health and NBA regulations.
The Jazz, like all NBA teams conducting similar such activities, are doing them with player and staff safety as a paramount.
“The biggest goal is to have the confidence of the players and the staff that they can enter our facility safely,” Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said last week.
Jason Quick of The Athletic joined GameTime to talk about the Trail Blazers' return to the practice court, where he shares the players' transition to the new and safety-oriented routine of their basketball day.
"They noticed right away that things were going to be different," Quick said.
Blazers players use the media entrance and receive immediate temperature checks before working out in separate portions of the facilities. Quick elaborated on how a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility, and even then they must maintain appropriate social distance as they go from training area to area.
"The players all acknowledge that 'hey, this is weird,' but they understood it and accepted it because they said safety comes first," Quick added.
No games doesn't mean no basketball for many NBA players intent on being ready when the league resumes play. That list includes Philadelphia All-Star Joel Embiid, who posted a picture of himself on Instagram, apparently worn out after an intense workout at the 76ers' practice facility.
"It’s essential that they have the proper equipment to work out and rehab, so he’s been doing that ever since the first week," 76ers general manager Elton Brand said, per NBC Sports Philadephia. "We were able to get him access there. Joel Embiid’s been working out. He’s conditioning, he’s focused, he’s asking about when his trainer can come in, when he can get on the court. So I wouldn’t bet against him. He’s going to be ready and ramped up."
Embiid was in the midst of his third consecutive All-Star season, averaging 23.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for the 39-26 Sixers.
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Cavs forward Kevin Love was one of the players eager to return, even with the added safety measures. Love spoke with Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com afterward:
As inviting as it felt to be back on the hardwood, it was impossible to ignore the safety measures.
"It's just going to change the way -- at least for the foreseeable future -- of not only how we interact but how we live in our daily lives. So for me, was it weird? Yeah," Love said. "I had [Cavs assistant coach] Dan Geriot at my basket and having him rebound and pass me the ball with a mask and gloves on. It's just odd. It's just weird."
"I feel like anybody who needs an escape or in everyday life is looking for any type of normalcy back doing something they love," he said. "For me, I played 25-ish years of organized basketball, and this is the longest I've ever gone without touching [a basketball]. And it's something I really, really enjoy doing.
"So for me, it definitely was a big dopamine hit, and it just felt great to get in there and sweat outside of doing my workouts at home or getting on a treadmill. Going out there and having some sense of normalcy and getting on the court and actually shooting was pretty uplifting."
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A handful of teams in cities where coronavirus testing has become readily available for health care workers will be able to give tests to asymptomatic players, reports ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Teams could administer the tests to both players and staff, Wojnarowski reports, with the Orlando Magic, LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers expected to be among the teams able to conduct the testing.
Wojnarowski reports that the NBA recently informed teams of a "limited exception" to the guidelines that prohibit the testing of asymptomatic individuals in the preliminary phase of players practicing at team facilities. The NBA will essentially OK a written authorization from a local health authority that confirms a "robust testing program" is available for health care workers.
The Cavaliers and Trail Blazers both opened facilities on Friday, but neither Cleveland nor Portland has the kind of testing options in place mentioned above. Wojnarowski reports that teams will follow numerous protocols upon players returning to facilities, including the taking of temperatures.
The defending-champion Toronto Raptors announced Friday they will open their OVO Athletic Center starting next week. Per the team's release, the Raptors will be facilitating limited access to the facility for player workouts starting on May 11.
Working closely with local government, infectious disease experts and public health authorities, we'll be facilitating limited access to OVO Athletic Centre for player workouts in line with league guidance.— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) May 8, 2020
Details » https://t.co/5f0PHNQZJ0pic.twitter.com/eetd12bo0W
Colorado began lifting its stay-at-home order in late April and the city of Denver began doing so recently. With that in mind, the Denver Nuggets, per the Denver Post, were reportedly set to open their practice facility on Friday.
That changed on Friday as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that date has been pushed to Monday. The Denver Post reports that a "significant" portion of Denver's players are currently not in the city.
The Denver Nuggets are planning to re-open the team practice facility for voluntary individual player workouts on Monday -- not today, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 8, 2020
Per the Miami Herald's Anthony Chiang, the Heat do not plan to allow players to workout at the AmericanAirlines Arena until next Monday at the earliest. The newspaper reports the team is still finalizing details and plans regarding the reopening of its facilities and the Heat intend to follow the NBA's strict guidelines for doing so.
In an interview with South Florida radio personality Andy Slater last Friday, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the Heat would be allowed to hold workouts in its arena if the NBA reopens facilities on May 8. For now, Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler and veteran Andre Iguodala are not in Miami as both have spent most of the season hiatus in their California homes.
The Miami Herald reports the team would likely encourage those two players to return to South Florida soon after team facilities are opened.
The Sacramento Kings are the first NBA team in California to announce their policy for opening their practice facility. In a statement released May 7, the Kings said they will reopen the practice facility at Golden 1 Center for "voluntary, individual workouts" starting on May 11.
The Kings are doing so "pursuant to the updated Sacramento County Public Health Order effective May 1" which allows non-contact recreational facilities to open and in accordance with the NBA’s updated basketball operations policies and procedures. In the statement, the Kings said they will conform with social distancing requirements and appropriate disinfectant processes.
"Per league policies, the team’s practice facility will be available for use by Kings players for workouts and treatment on a voluntary, individual basis only," the Kings statement also said.
Cleveland is one of a handful of teams planning to reopen practice facilities on Friday so players can work out as states across the country ease the social-distancing restrictions put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought sports to an abrupt halt in March.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the Cavs have been in contact with local and Ohio officials to ensure they’re following the proper protocol to protect personnel. Only four players will be permitted at a time inside the team’s facility in Independence, Ohio, which has been closed for nearly two months.
The Cavs intend to hold two-hour sessions during which only one player and one developmental coach -- wearing gloves and a mask -- will be permitted at the same basket.
Big man Larry Nance Jr. will head to the team's practice facility on May 8 when voluntary workouts will open, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times. Nance suffers from Crohn's disease, which is treated with immunosuppressive medication that can make Cronh's disease sufferers more vulnerable to infections. However, he told Stein that he has confidence in the drug he takes -- Remicade -- to combat his Crohn's.
Georgia had its shelter-in-place order lifted as of April 30, which means the Atlanta Hawks would -- under the NBA's guidelines -- be able to open their practice facility on May 8. However, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Hawks GM Travis Schlenk is looking at next week as a potential timeframe for opening the facility.
With a handful of teams set to open practice facilities Friday for very limited individual workouts, the NBA is planning a call with all of its players Friday, reports ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts will head up the call, Shelburne reports. The call is intended to be an open forum for all NBA players to ask any questions or address any issues that may be concerning them regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Per ESPN, the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers plan to reopen their facilities on Friday. Additionally, ESPN reports several other teams plan to do likewise next week.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott did not include gyms and other training facilities in his initial phase of reopening businesses in the state. However, even if they had been included, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would not be allowing his team facility to follow suit anytime soon.
Cuban was quoted in The Dallas Morning News on Wednesday and said he is waiting for more information from scientists before he's willing to change his mind.
“We listen to health experts, not politicians,” Cuban wrote Monday in an email to The Dallas Morning News. “When the NBA provides us with confirmation that it’s safe for our guys to move forward, we will move forward.”
He repeated his stance on the topic in the 77 Minutes In Heaven podcast on Wednesday night, saying: "The problem obviously is that because we can’t test people, then we can’t assure anybody’s safety, whether they’re basketball players or anybody else," Cuban said. "Even though we can try to take all the different kinds of precautions, it’s just not worth it, particularly when our guys are staying in shape and they’re going outside and shooting on outdoors hoops and working out in various ways. So I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward.”
Like the Mavericks, the Houston Rockets are holding off on opening their facility until they are given the OK to do so in state. Rockets CEO Tad Brown told the Houston Chronicle he is shooting for a May 18 re-open date for the team's facility and noted that Houston's players are currently "all over the country."
Per the newspaper, Russell Westbrook, Tyson Chandler and Ben McLemore have been in California, James Harden in Arizona and Austin Rivers and Jeff Green in Florida. Robert Covington recently returned to Houston from Tennessee, while Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, Danuel House Jr. and Isaiah Hartenstein have remained in Houston.
The Utah Jazz were one of the first teams directly affected by coronavirus pandemic after All-Star center Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for the virus.
Team officials are not rushing to get players back into the team's Zions Bank Basketball Campus for individual workouts though, Jazz executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said Tuesday.
"That could be within a day or two, but my best guess is it will be after May 8,” Lindsey said Tuesday. “We want to make sure the facility meets all of the league specifications, the local and state health officials’ protocols, and then we’re going to be even more stringent with those standards and create our own.”
While some NBA teams are gearing up for a return to practice facilities on May 8, Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel is fine with a different timeline for his team.
The Lakers were leading the Western Conference at the time of the NBA season's hiatus. Los Angeles County has a stay-at-home order in place through at least May 15, which Mayor Eric Garcetti reiterated at a Wednesday press conference.
“We’re not going to be back on (May) 8th,” Vogel said in a Wednesday conference call. “There’s a handful of teams around the league that are going to be back on the 8th, most of them will not. We’ll continue to see how things progress next week."
Shams Charania of The Athletic reports the Lakers are hopeful to open their facility to players on May 16.
Lakers are hopeful to open facility then — and will continue working with the appropriate government and health officials to ensure safety for players and staff during the fluid coronavirus situation. https://t.co/0xw2sblPKy— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 7, 2020
New Story: Frank Vogel checks in to share his optimism/hope about an eventual return to play, the unknown of how his team will respond, what his coaching staff is working on, plus what he’s been watching on TV during the stay-at-home order: https://t.co/z7iG3v3fyA— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) May 7, 2020
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