While individual workouts in team facilities have been permitted by the NBA since the season was suspended last week, the league is now even banning that in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
The NBA has informed teams that all practice and training facilities will be closed to players and staff until further notice starting Friday, a league source confirmed. For players to work out during the shutdown, they will have to do it at home or at another private facility.
NBA teams have not been allowed to hold group practices, meetings or workouts since the shutdown began.
In addition, the NBA reportedly recommends its players stay in market to avoid travel and remain close to their teams, but it is allowing them to travel elsewhere if they want to go home or be with family and friends. However, because the outbreak is also affecting other parts of the world, players are not allowed to travel outside of North America.
How long will the league’s coronavirus hiatus last? Nobody knows at this point, not even NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“I don’t have a good enough sense of how long a period this is going to be,” Silver said Wednesday in an interview with ESPN. “Even the fact that we were using the word hiatus just a week ago and sort of the implication was a short amount of time. I think I said last Thursday not less than 30 days just to give some guidance to our teams and players. But at this point, I really don’t know.”
In what Silver titled “A Letter to NBA Fans” last week, he wrote: “The hiatus will last at least 30 days.” The stoppage started last Thursday, pushing the 30-day mark out to April 10.
But on Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines that will likely extend the league’s shutdown into May: “CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers [whether groups or individuals] cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.”
Even in an arena with no fans, an NBA game would include 50 or more people when counting players, coaches, training staff, team security and other essential personnel. An eight-week timeline means the earliest date the league can resume the season is May 11.
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The NBA regular season had been scheduled to end April 15, with the playoffs scheduled to begin the weekend of of April 18-19. The NBA Finals were set to start June 4.
NBA owners and executives are preparing for the possibility of mid-to-late June as a best-case scenario for the league’s return, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Under that timetable, the season could extend into August.
However, there’s also the fear that this season could be completely lost.
“I’m looking at three different things here,” Silver said to ESPN of what it would take for the season to resume. “One is, of course, when can we restart and operate as we know it? 19,000 fans in buildings. That’s one set of criteria. Option two is should we consider restarting without fans and what would that mean? Because presumably if you had a group of players and staff around them and you can test them and follow some protocol, doctors and health officials may say it’s safe to play. ... And then the third option that we’re looking at now ... one of the things we’ve been talking about is are there conditions in which a group of players could compete? Maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just for the collective good of the people.”
▪ Along with re-airing games on Fox Sports Sun during the NBA’s stoppage, the Heat will also re-air games on the radio on 790 The Ticket on days the team was previously scheduled to play. Games will be broadcast starting at 6:30 p.m., with a pregame show starting at 6 p.m. and a live postgame show following each “re-air game” hosted by Zack Duarte.
The radio series begins Friday, as the Heat’s Oct. 26 road overtime win over the Bucks will be replayed.
This story was originally published March 19, 2020 2:56 PM.