The National Basketball Association has revised its timetable to allow individual workouts at team facilities to begin no earlier than May 8.
The league originally intended to start the re-opening process May 1, allowing teams in states without strict stay-at-home orders at that point to begin allow players access to those facilities for individual training.
But after numerous inquires from individual teams, the league on April 27 informed teams in a detailed 16-page memo that the process will begin a week later as the Covid-19 pandemic continues. The shift owes primarily to player, coach, and staff member safety, as opposed to any sort of competitive balance considerations.
Also helping fuel the shift were the Atlanta Hawks, who play in the state of Georgia, which was among the first states to relax its stay-at-home orders and allow certain segments of the economy to restart. But the Hawks still intend to wait and ensure its facilities can be used safely before allowing its players access.
“We are going to wait and see what happens in the state over the [next] couple weeks,” Hawks president of basketball operations and general manager Travis Schlenk told ESPN. “If there’s a positive response [to Georgia’s reopening measures], we’ll slowly open up. If it’s a negative response, we’ll make sure our staff and players remain healthy.”
The NBA’s memo included a series of restrictions that come along with the team facility reopening provisions. Among them: a rule that no more than four players can be at a team facility at any time, no participation by head or assistant coaches, no group activity, and a continuing prohibition on players using non-team facilities such as public health clubs, fitness centers, and gyms.
Numerous other social distancing and disinfecting measures will also be employed.
“The purpose of these changes is to allow for safe and controlled environments for players to train in states that allow them to do so, and to create a process for identifying safe training options for players located in other states,” the NBA said in a statement.
The May 8 timetable may still be pushed back further “if developments warrant,” the league said.
The league is also seeking safe training facilities for players on teams such as the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets that play in states still with stringent stay-at-home orders.
League commissioner Adam Silver said there remains no definite timetable as to when the NBA will be able to resume actual games.