NBA considering opening practice facilities on May 8 amid COVID-19 pandemic

·2 min read

The NBA’s not giving up hope on completing its season.

And with pressure mounting nationwide as states and municipalities consider easing stay-at-home restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the league is seizing the opportunity to get back to work — at least on practice floors.

The NBA informed teams on Monday that it is targeting May 8 at the earliest to allow teams to open their practice facilities with the purpose to “allow for safe and controlled environments for players to train in states that allow them to do so.”

That doesn’t mean that facilities will open on that date. The league will continue to monitor progress of efforts to suppress the pandemic before making a decision.

“The league advised teams that it is targeting no earlier than Friday, May 8, as the commencement date for the new rules, and that it may push this timing back if developments warrant,” the league’s statement reads.

States criticized for opening without scientific basis

The Atlanta Hawks could conceivably open their facilities now under Georgia’s orders to ease restrictions on non-essential businesses, which have come under fire as too soon and not based on scientific evidence suggesting that it’s safe to do so. But the Hawks remains in a holding pattern per NBA guidelines.

Is it too soon for the NBA to open practice facilities? (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Is it too soon for the NBA to open practice facilities? (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The NBA listed restrictions and guidelines that would remain in place when facilities do open. From the league’s statement:

  • 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.

What about teams in states that remain closed?

The league also addressed competitive balance issues that arise from different teams falling under differing government guidelines that leave some teams unable to offer workout facilities to their players.

“For any team that, due to a government restriction, is prohibited from making its facility available for use by the team’s players, the league will work with the team to identify alternatives,” the statement reads.

There is no explanation on how the NBA would plan to work around government restrictions in those cases.

The news arrives after a report over the weekend that the NBA initially intended to allow the opening of facilities on May 1.