Bickerstaff: Cavs 'hopeful' as practice facility reopens for voluntary workouts

Sam Amico

It's not much, but it's a start. For the first time in nearly two months, the Cleveland Cavaliers are opening their practice facility for workouts.

That is something Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff confirmed during a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday.

The workouts at Cleveland Clinic Courts can start Friday and will be voluntary, with strict health and safety guidelines in place. Bickerstaff himself is not permitted to be there.

"No one is being pressured to do anything," he said. "It's not mandatory for (the players) to show up."

The Cavs are one of several teams in states that have relaxed stay-at-home restrictions and are choosing to reopen their facility.

Bickerstaff and the league's other head coaches took part in a conference call with the league office Wednesday, and the overriding theme was how to approach the slow return to working out.

"The league in information gathering mode right now," Bickerstaff said. "Their goal is to not put themselves in a bind and not start too early."

The Cavs (19-46) owned the worst record in the Eastern Conference when the NBA went on hiatus March 11. There's no been determination if the season will resume. If it does, there's really no telling if non-playoff teams such as the Cavs will be included ... or will have to wait until next season, whenever that arrives.

Either way, Bickerstaff made it clear that the entire league wants to have a sense of closure. 

"Everybody wants to see a champion," he said. "Safety first, but if it's possible, I think it's worth it."

In the meantime, the Cavs have been holding Zoom calls with the players and coaching staff. General manager Koby Altman also has been involved.

Everyone is itching for some competition, Bickerstaff said.

"They're hopeful," he said of the players. "That's what these guys do. When you get used to being part of a pack, that's where you're comfortable and want to be."

According to guidelines put in place by the NBA, no more than four players will be allowed in the facility at the same time. The players also must be practicing at their own basket. 

Bickerstaff added that anyone rebounding for players will be wearing a mask and gloves, and staying a safe distance away. The Cavs actually have their own guidelines in place that are even stricter than those instituted by the league.

"Obviously, the longer things go, the more people are separated, you have to get more creative," Bickerstaff said. "But I think being separated is gonna make people more excited once things do get going."

Whenever the Cavs do return to action, they will hope to keep a pretty good thing going. They won five of 11 under Bickerstaff, who took over for John Beilein in February. Even an untrained eye could tell they were more inspired and cohesive under Bickerstaff.

"This group has been outstanding. It was more than just the basketball that we were enjoying," Bickerstaff said. "The way they treated each other, the way they competed with each other, the way they were picking each other up. ... 

"Everybody had a night where they contributed. When it was the other guy's turn, they were happy. They weren't frustrated. That's fun. That's what you hope coaching should be. "

Sam Amico covers pro basketball for Sports Illustrated. Follow him @AmicoHoops.

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