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NBA team officials are reportedly hoping for at least a one-month training period before the league resumes play following the suspension of the 2019-20 season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
ESPN’s Baxter Holmes reported Saturday that some general managers and athletic training staffers agreed players can’t be expected to hop right back into game action after a long layoff, but there are concerns about the timetable as the NBA attempts to limit financial losses.
“But I need these guys pushing their bodies for at least 30 days prior to the first meaningful basketball game,” one GM said. “And by meaningful basketball game, I mean a postseason game.”
When asked about the one-month prep period, an Eastern Conference GM told Holmes: “I don’t know how we could have that luxury. That would be great, but I would say if I had to push it, I would say 10 days to two weeks.”
An NBA athletic training official discussed another factor under consideration:
“You’ve got some players that are privileged enough to be isolating in their luxury mansions with full gyms and [who] practically built their own Olympic training centers.
“And you’ve got some people that are isolating in their 1,200-square foot apartment or at their parents’ house. That’s the range of the 450 some odd players in the NBA. I think that to make those determinations, you can’t make a determination on the guy that lives at his own private Olympic training center. You have to make the determination at the lowest common denominator.”
The league informed teams to provide players with their full paychecks April 15, but no further assurances were made, with the next payday for most players scheduled for May 1, per ESPN.
That’s where the idea of what’s basically a second training camp could hit a snag, as one general manager explained to Holmes.
“I don’t know where the line in the sand is, or where the threshold of pain is,” the GM said. “Nobody’s missed a check yet, but you miss a couple checks, the NBA starts laying people off, those things will start to propel [us forward]. [Then] I’m afraid a little bit more of [how] decisions are made.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told TNT’s Ernie Johnson during a social media event Monday he doesn’t see any decisions being made in the immediate future.
“Essentially, what I’ve told my folks over the last week is that we just should just accept that, at least for the month of April, we won’t be in a position to make any decisions,” Silver said. “And I don’t think that necessarily means on May 1 we will be.”
NBA spokesman Tim Frank provided a statement to Holmes about how quickly the league would return to play if given clearance.
“All return-to-play scenarios contemplate the importance of an appropriate training period in order to ensure the health and wellness of our players,” he said.
In the meantime, the NBA is looking for other ways to provide entertainment to fans.
A HORSE tournament will get underway Sunday night on ESPN, featuring former stars Chauncey Billups and Paul Pierce; current players Zach LaVine, Chris Paul, Mike Conley and Trae Young; and WNBA standouts Tamika Catchings (retired) and Allie Quigley. The finals are scheduled for Thursday.