It’s now been over a month since an NBA game was played and as the world learns more about how to combat COVID-19, it appears the league is trying to ease players back into action. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the NBA is allowing teams to open practice facilities in states where the governments have loosened stay-at-home orders. While that’s good news for many teams, that could put a team like the Los Angeles Lakers at a disadvantage.
Los Angeles’ current stay-at-home orders will at least run through May 15. However, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the team is trying to work with the city on a possible solution:
The Lakers have been in contact with the Los Angeles mayor’s office to discuss the possibility of opening their practice facility for players before the current shelter-at-home order for L.A. residents expires on May 15, sources close to the matter told ESPN.
It’s not a foregone conclusion that the Lakers will be able to go their practice facilities earlier than May 15, but it sounds like they’re taking the necessary steps to try and make that happen.
Players ‘Eager’ to Get Back to Work
NBA players aren’t invincible and may have already tested positive for COVID-19. If a return to practice is possible, it doesn’t appear players will be forced to show up, but McMenamin reports that Lakers players are ready to work:
When the workouts begin, they will be voluntary. However, one source present for the conference call said players sounded ‘eager’ to make the first step back since the NBA went on hiatus on March 11 and two Lakers players tested positive for COVID-19 shortly thereafter.
The Lakers were among the teams vying for an NBA title before play was suspended. They were coming off a couple of impressive wins and many considered them the favorite to win it all. It remains to be seen if the season will start back up or get canceled altogether, but it sounds like the Lakers want to be ready either way.
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Full Team Workouts Aren’t on the Table Yet
Players getting back to practice is certainly a step in the right direction regarding a potential return, but it doesn’t sound like full team practices will happen anytime soon. McMenamin outlined what practices might look like at first:
Hand-washing stations will be put in place. The weight room will be rearranged to allow for more space between equipment. Food service in the players’ lounge will be revamped to provide meals in individual containers, rather than through a buffet presentation.
A priority in the planning for the Lakers will be the implementation of a strict schedule for players to follow, with slotted workout times to prevent overcrowding. Players will be scheduled in groups of up to four — each getting their own half court — for 90-minute workout periods, with ample time between sessions for cleaning and sterilization.
If players do return, safety will take precedent over working out. Based on the report, it sounds like the Lakers have done their homework on how to keep their players safe. If they believe there’s a way for players to practice without putting themselves at serious risk, then there’s a good chance they’ll push hard to see if Los Angeles will let them open their facilities early.