NBA teams will be allowed to reopen their practice facilities during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic if their local governments have loosened stay-at-home orders, according to people with knowledge of the decision.

Under the league’s new guidelines, players in affected areas would be able to conduct individual workouts only beginning on 1 May. Teams still would not be allowed to hold organised group workouts or practices.

The league’s move was first reported by ESPN.

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All NBA arenas and practice facilities were shuttered to players as part of the league’s indefinite suspension following Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert’s positive test for the coronavirus on 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.

Not all NBA teams will be impacted equally under this framework. In Georgia, where Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, reopened gyms and other nonessential business on Friday, members of the Atlanta Hawks would be allowed to use the team’s practice facility. In other states where tighter restrictions are still in place, players would still be forced to work out at home for now.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on 17 April that the league still has no formal timeline for returning to play, and that he has not yet set a cutoff date for determining whether the 2019-20 season will be resumed or cancelled. 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 and take advice from the CDC and state governments as it proceeds with determining when it is safe to resume play (Getty)

The NBA will monitor new coronavirus case counts, the widespread availability of testing, the possibility of a vaccine and guidelines from the Centres 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 all tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Washington Post

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