As the NBA carefully considers resuming basketball activities, teams are allowed to reopen their practice facilities as of Friday. However, not everyone involved is convinced that jumping back onto the court is the best move amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For his part, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum joins those who have major concerns about safety and the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus.
In speaking with Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Chris Haynes, McCollum pondered whether or not returning to practice facilities for workouts, optional though they may be, is worth it. While he respects the steps that are being taken to protect players, coaches and facility staff, McCollum is also keenly aware of the risk involved.
“I am worried like the rest of the world, but I like that it is optional and I’m pleased with the caution, structure and measures the Blazers organization has put in place to ensure the safest environment possible for all parties involved. I get the measures [the league is] taking, but you have to think at some point when there are drastic measures that need to be taken, ‘Is it really worth it?’ It’s either safe or it’s not.”
McCollum’s Trail Blazers join the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers as teams planning to open their facilities on Friday. The league as a whole has been in shutdown mode since March 11 when Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus. Despite the fact that nearly two months have passed since the 2019-20 season was suspended, hope remains that the campaign can be concluded in truncated fashion this summer.
Nevertheless, it’s unclear whether there is a path for doing so safely. McCollum, who also serves as vice president of the National Basketball Players Association, aims to go into his team’s practice facility this weekend and determine if it’s even possible to safely execute a workout given the restrictions that have been put in place.
“The issue is you can go to your practice facility, but there’s all these stipulations,” McCollum told Yahoo!. “You can’t use certain stuff, can’t do certain stuff. Now they’re talking about you might have to be 12 feet away from your strength coach. How are you going to lift 12 feet away from somebody?”
There are also concerns about teams’ ability to test players for infection. According to the May 7 numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been no fewer than 19,000 new cases of coronavirus infection every day going back to March 30. So while the NBA is taking steps to mitigate risk — taking temperatures upon entry into facilities, social distancing, et al. — the risk remains significant.
Whether the NBA season resumes or not, teams still have to consider their futures on the court. To that end, the Milwaukee Bucks have a lot to think about with regard to Giannis Antetokounmpo. As reported by The Inquisitr and other outlets, Giannis could force a trade out of Milwaukee if his team can’t keep themselves in the title picture going forward.