The 2019-20 NBA season isn’t restarting anytime soon. However, the league is considering plans to allow individual workouts at team facilities as some American states begin to lift stay-at-home restrictions.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the NBA planned on allowing individual workouts at team facilities in states where stay-at-home restrictions are lifted as early as May 1 last week. These states are generally in the South and the Heartland like Georgia, where the Atlanta Hawks play.
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
For a bit, it actually seemed like the Hawks were serious
The NBA pushed this deadline was pushed to May 8 last Monday. While I want basketball back ASAP, this is just another haphazard attempt to salvage a season that will almost definitely be canceled by June. I think the 2019-20 NBA season is over at this point.
I get why the NBA is throwing every option on the wall and hoping that something sticks. These are unprecedented times.
But one thing the NBA doesn’t seem to have planned for enough, at least via news reports is what should happen if and when the season is actually canceled. I get that’s the “Debbie Downer” scenario. But it is the most realistic given the current situation.
Regardless of whether the season is canceled, I still think it is a BAD IDEA to open practice facilities, even for just a few teams. Besides the risk of more NBA players or coaches getting COVID-19, here’s why the NBA should not consider opening ANY practice facilities.
Teams in “early-opening states” will be at a competitive advantage
Locally, Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are under stay-at-home orders until at least May 15, or indefinitely. I’m not a lawyer or business classification official, but NBA team practice facilities are essentially fancy fitness clubs.
If teams like the Hawks start individual workouts where gyms are now open again in Georgia, they’ll have players who are closer to basketball shape than teams like the Wizards, where players can’t even shoot hoops unless they have private gyms in their homes which are exempt from the orders.
And if all that weren’t enough, players who are in the United States are openly considering going to Georgia to at least shoot some hoops, according to Wojnarowski.
The NBA has to monitor what happens in Canada too.
I’ve generally been 100 percent behind a global NBA. But the pandemic has shown the complications of having teams in more than just the United States. The Toronto Raptors play in Ontario, Canada, so they’re not subject to American regulations on stay-at-home orders, etc. To be clear, Ontarians are under similar restrictions. Fitness clubs can’t open in the province until at least May 6, but I think that order will also be extended.
Furthermore, the United States and Canada mutually banned non-essential travel between each other (I don’t think NBA games are an essential business), so the Raptors are banned from playing games altogether since all of their opponents are in the USA. It would be weird for the NBA to have to shut down the Raptors, the defending champions while letting everyone else continue the season, right?
Though I’m seeing these kinds of reports of the NBA exploring “scenario A, B or C” to resume practices or a “Bubble City” to continue the season, cooler and rational heads will likely prevail. I don’t see the Hawks opening their practice facility on May 8. And I don’t see any NBA team opening up their facility until all teams’ local, state or provincial governments ease restrictions on fitness clubs. That’s the way it needs to be, even though we would all rather have NBA basketball right now.