As of Friday, the NBA is allowing teams to open their practice facilities to players for voluntary workouts, with the understanding that strict protocols must be enacted to prevent coronavirus infection. However, some have expressed concern about resuming basketball activities at the team level amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to a report, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) President Chris Paul is worried that teams are actually pressuring players to return to the hardwood.
According to a tweet from Yahoo! Sports‘ Chris Haynes, Paul has voiced concern on behalf of the players that these workouts may not be so voluntary after all. Per Haynes, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has maintained that workouts are optional in conversations with Paul and has advised the Thunder star to follow up with the league office should there be any further incident.
Yahoo Sources: Chris Paul expressed concern on behalf of players that some teams could be pressuring players to work out at the facility. Adam Silver reiterated that it’s optional and advised Paul to follow up with the league if it continues.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 8, 2020
The NBA’s move to open team facilities was the first step toward potentially resuming the 2019-20 season. The league has been on hold since the league shut its doors in mid-March following Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s positive coronavirus test. Although Gobert was the first NBA player to contract COVID-19 — followed in short order by his Jazz teammate, fellow All-Star Donovan Mitchell — several players are known to have tested positive at this point.
Even as the league takes steps to mitigate the risk involved with resuming basketball activities, questions clearly remain about players’ safety. While multiple states around the U.S. have begun the process of reopening commerce and public spaces, the coronavirus continues to spread at a high rate. Per the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. saw more than 25,000 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus infection on May 7.
Paul isn’t the only player to have hinted at a level of doubt about getting back to the business of basketball. As shared by The Inquisitr on Friday, NBPA Vice President Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum also spoke with Haynes and expressed his own concerns about safety — not only with regard to potentially becoming infected with COVID-19, either.
According to McCollum, it’s hard to envision players safely working out or lifting weights, for example, when their team’s strength coaches must remain at least 12 feet away due to the league’s social distancing guidelines.
With so much uncertainty looming in relation to voluntary workout sessions, it’s difficult to envision when — or if — the 2019-20 NBA season might resume.