The move was first reported by ESPN.
All NBA arenas and practice facilities were shuttered to players as part of the league’s indefinite suspension following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the coronavirus March 11. This new policy would steer players to their team’s private facilities — which are theoretically a safer and more controlled environment — and away from public gyms, which could be reopened as state and local governments adjust their protocols in the coming weeks. Currently, all NBA players are prohibited from using non-team facilities like public fitness centers and gyms, even if they are open to the general public.
Not all NBA teams will be affected equally under this framework. In Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp (R) reopened gyms and other nonessential business Friday, members of the Atlanta Hawks would theoretically be allowed to use the team’s practice facility. In states where tighter restrictions are still in place, players would still be forced to work out at home for now.
Concerned about possible competitive balance issues that could arise from the market-to-market disparity in gym access, the NBA will prohibit coaches from being in attendance during workouts at team facilities. Additionally, no more than four players can be at the facility simultaneously and group activities and scrimmages are prohibited.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said April 17 that the league has no formal timeline for returning to play, and that he has not set a cutoff date for determining whether the rest of the 2019-20 season will be played or canceled. Silver added that the NBA has “not seriously engaged yet” in plans for pursuing a single-site postseason format.
“It’s about the data and not the date,” Silver said on a conference call following the league’s annual Board of Governors meeting. “There’s too much unknown to set a timeline. There is no appetite [among owners] to compromise the well-being of our players. In terms of priorities, you begin with safety. We’re not at a point yet where we have a clear protocol and a path forward where we feel like we can sit down with the players and say we can resume the season. Human life trumps anything else you could possibly be talking about.”
The NBA will monitor new coronavirus case counts, the widespread availability of testing, the possibility of a vaccine and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state governments as it proceeds with determining when it is safe to resume play.
At least 10 NBA players, four other unidentified NBA team employees and New York Knicks owner James Dolan have tested positive for the coronavirus.