As confirmed recently by the league via NBA.com, teams across the National Basketball Association are now allowed at their discretion to reopen practice facilities for limited player workouts with strict guidelines in place to mitigate the risk posed by the coronavirus. On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers reportedly became the latest club planning to take advantage of that allowance.
According to a Twitter post from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Lakers have coordinated with local officials to reopen and are intending to do so on Saturday.
“After working with city, county, and state officials the Lakers are planning to re-open their practice facility tomorrow for voluntary, socially distanced workouts in accordance with NBA protocols, sources told ESPN.”
While other teams around the NBA have already resumed some level of activity — both on the court and in the weight room — players have expressed concern on multiple fronts with regards to getting back to the business of basketball while the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S.
For his part, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard and National Basketball Players Association (NBA) President Chris Paul recently inferred that the workouts — which are supposed to be voluntary — are actually being forced on players by some team ownership and management groups, as reported by The Inquisitr.
Meanwhile, The Inquisitr also reported on NBPA Vice President and Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum wondering whether or not conducting workouts would be safe; not just in terms of the COVID-19 risk, but also as a result of not being able to lift weights or exercise with the close assistance of team strength coaches due to social distancing protocols.
In any case, the league’s move to allow the reopening of practice facilities was the first step in potentially moving toward a resumption of play. The 2019-20 NBA season has put on hold in mid-March when Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert became the first player in the league to test positive for coronavirus infection.
Perhaps more than most teams, the Lakers have a vested interest in seeing the season concluded and a 2020 NBA champion crowned. At the time the season was suspended, the team sat atop the Western Conference standings with a record of 49-14. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the charge, the Lakers were in a strong position to compete for the title.
Next season, the title chase may prove to be a more difficult task. Uncertainty looms regarding Davis’ future in a Lakers uniform beyond this season, James will turn 36, and the Golden State Warriors could also be back in the title picture with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson healthy after missing significant time due to injuries.