The Los Angeles Lakers and every other NBA team had to shut down their practice facilities on March 20 as the league looked to slow the spread and wait for more information on the coronavirus. Nearly two months later — and a few weeks after some other teams opened — the Lakers are opening back up, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
“The Lakers will re-open their practice facility on Saturday, I’m told, after conversations (with) and clearance from L.A. county government and health officials. The Lakers will do so on a limited basis. I’m told not all seven days of the week will be open to players and personnel, and they will have to follow the NBA’s strict guidelines.“But for LeBron James and this West-leading Lakers team, a team that was hopeful to contend for an NBA championship, this is one small step towards some level of normalcy.”
In addition to the steps Charania outlines, the Lakers will also be testing players and staffers — even asymptomatic ones — for coronavirus before they use the facility, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
But while this will be a move closer to normalcy, it will not quite be a return to normal (at least not yet). The facility will only be open for voluntary workouts between a player and staffer. For now, multiple players still can’t work out together, and they will have to shoot on different baskets (the Lakers’ have four in their gym). Head coaches will not be allowed to supervise these workouts, either.
Still, this is a good indicator that the league is getting closer to making an effort to return, even if the season resuming still isn’t quite a certainty. And with LeBron James and Anthony Davis joining other stars on a conference call this week to come to an agreement that they want the season to resume, steps are being taken to bring the players and owners closer together on how and when to do that.
Lakers forward Jared Dudley has consistently said players would need at least a month back in practice facilities to get ready for the season, and even while this won’t be quite the level of practice to simulate NBA games, it’s still progress. If there are no setbacks from this step around the league over the next several weeks, look for the NBA to start revealing it’s next moves back towards a season resumption soon.
For now at least, the incredibly close players on this team have a way to be in the gym with each other again (while remaining socially distanced). After a few months of slow progress and doubt about the season returning at all, that’s at least something.