The NBA reportedly is giving teams permission to open their facilities to players beginning May 1 if stay-at-home restrictions in the teams' locales have been lifted or sufficiently eased.
Before anyone starts dancing over that news, know that basketball is still a long way from resuming, for three significant reasons:
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Only individual sessions will be allowed
According to reports by ESPN and The Associated Press, players can begin voluntary workouts when facilities are reopened, and they can only work out by themselves: No team activities, no practices. That means we're still not looking at a quick resumption of the season, but rather the beginning of a gradual ramp-up as more states and cities loosen restrictions. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the league wants to ensure players can work out in professional, safe environments if they're able to move around.
A lot of states will have restrictions in place after May 1
NBA teams operate in 21 states, the District of Columbia and the Canadian province of Ontario. Based on a review of local reports, at least four states — Georgia, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah — are expected to be open Friday. The remaining states and provinces are either deciding whether to reopen or have restrictions in place through at least May 6. The AP reported that the NBA will work to find "alternative arrangements" in places where players are unable to work out because of stay-at-home orders.
The league is still in wait-and-see mode
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has still not decided whether to resume the 2019-20 season, which he suspended March 11. "Based on the reports that we got from varied outside officials, current public health officials ... we are not in a position to make any decisions," Silver told reporters in a conference call on April 17. "And it's unclear when we will be." Wojnarowski reported Saturday that Silver and team owners believe they still need more time to decide. So the move to limited workouts two weeks later does not equal "We're playing," not when players will be on an extended rolling timetable for practicing again.
Look at this move, then, as a welcome step forward, but also about the smallest step possible.