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NBA updates rules for practicing at team facilities

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is introduced during a

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is introduced during a preseason game between the Rockets and the Raptors in Saitama, near Tokyo, on Oct. 8, 2019. Credit: AP/Jae C. Hong

As state and local governments begin announcing modifications of stay-at-home orders, the NBA informed teams in a memo Monday of modifications to the rules on the use of team practice facilities. The modifications instruct what is allowed, though not much is permitted before May 8.

Even though some states already have opened up restrictions on non-essential businesses or have announced intentions to do so this week, the league told teams that it is targeting its date as no earlier than May 8. Teams were cautioned that this date could change if circumstances dictate.

In response to the coronavirus, the league suspended games on March 12. A week later, teams were ordered to close their practice facilities.

Georgia allowed non-essential businesses to open Friday and Oklahoma announced that gyms can open up Thursday. Colorado announced that personal training facilities might open later this week. Florida and Texas (along with Nevada, which has been speculated as a possible spot for games) have stay-at-home orders that expire Friday.

The rules, if not updated, would allow teams to make their practice facilities available for use by players for workouts or treatment on a voluntary, individual basis if the team’s facility is in a city that no longer is subject to a government restriction. Any team prohibited from making its facility available for use — including New York — can work with the league to discuss alternatives.

For the facilities that can open up, the league issued very strict guidelines on how to operate safely. The opening will include the following restrictions: No more than four players are permitted at a facility at any one time; no head or assistant coaches are allowed to participate in group activities, including practices or scrimmages; and players remain prohibited from using non-team facilities such as public health clubs, fitness centers or gyms.

According to a source, teams must assign one senior executive as a facility hygiene officer, responsible for scheduling workouts and coordinating all of the necessary planning for the arrival of players.

Players must wear face masks during their time at the facility other than when they are engaging in physical activities and staff always must wear face masks and gloves and keep a distance of 12 feet from each other (other than a player receiving treatment from a trainer).

Players will be required to observe sanitizing procedures and have their temperature taken and symptoms checked upon arriving at the facility.

The Knicks are believed to have only one player remaining in New York, Taj Gibson. According to a source, the league has issued directives for teams that want to bring players back, advising them to have the player drive rather than fly, if possible.

The NBA did not shift the rules on virtual workouts. Teams and players remain permitted to conduct group virtual workout sessions and meetings in which players participate from their homes.

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