After weeks of uncertainty and with players restless absent the means of working on their craft, the NBA reportedly will begin to allow some teams to reopen their facilities.
According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, at the start of May, the league will allow teams in states which have loosened stay-at-home orders to give players access to team gyms once again.
Beginning on May 1, the NBA is allowing teams to open their practice facilities to players in cities and states where local governments have eased stay-at-home orders, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 25, 2020
Though players will be able to work with teams in these markets to schedule individual workouts, Wojnarowski reports larger, teamwide workouts will still be banned, likely in order to maintain physical distancing as much as is possible.
Most important to the Suns at this point in time is what happens for teams in states that are not re-opening immediately. Wojnarowski tweeted in municipalities with stricter rules, the “league plans to work (with) teams on other arrangements for players.”
Sources: Teams will be allowed to make facilities open to players on a voluntary basis for individual work, but larger group workouts will still be prohibited. In NBA markets that aren't loosening restrictions, league plans to work w/ teams on other arrangements for players. https://t.co/yZSKsXedW1— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 25, 2020
Last week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey made no clear proclamations about what the future would hold for the state outside of the resumption of elective surgeries starting next Friday.
Ducey stated the obvious in giving out three possibilities for the coming weeks: Let the stay-at-home order completely expire after its original April 30 end date, extend it in its current form, or go through a phased reopening as outlined in the recent guidelines given out by the federal government.
The governor also made clear that COVID-19 testing volume must increase in order to safely and securely reopen. That would seem to preempt a more elongated reopening, as Arizona still rarely clears 2,000 tests per day in a state of 7.2 million residents. By next week, even with a small influx of tests in recent days, Arizona will only just clear testing 1 percent of the population. It was just Thursday that State Health Director Cara Christ opened the door for Arizonans with mild symptoms to get tested.
However, if the Suns and the NBA are focused on working out a solution, the state government could include Talking Stick Resort Arena among the businesses that are part of the first wave of reopenings starting May 1.
This will quickly become a matter of competitive advantage for the NBA. Because Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp moved so urgently to lift restrictions despite mayors in the state as well as federal officials recommending against it, the state is already on its way to opening gyms. That caused Hawks players to ask team officials if they should venture out to gyms to work out. The NBA acted to try to provide some form of an even playing field.
Still, it’s hard to imagine what sort of agreement the league could come to with states like California or Washington where restrictions are much stronger. After all, basketball players are not the only athletes currently forced to make do without anywhere to train. Tons of Olympic athletes, for instance, need unique equipment and facilities to work on their craft.
After commissioner Adam Silver said at the last league press call that he and his staff were no closer to a plan for resuming the 2019-20 season based on the degree of uncertainty related to the virus, some will see this news as evidence that we are closer to live basketball being back in our lives. Maybe those people should tune into parts three and four of “The Last Dance” this Sunday to satisfy that craving rather than expecting more NBA soon.
In a follow-up tweet storm, Wojnarowski cautioned that “The NBA is still unsure on if/when it can play again. But getting players safely into gyms was a priority.”