The Hawks officially reopened their practice facility on Monday -- two months after the NBA suspended its season -- according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Sarah Spencer. The Emory Sports Medicine Complex had been officially closed since mid-March, and the Hawks hadn't used it since March 11, when the NBA season halted the wake of a positive test for COVID-19.
Last month, the NBA made plans to allow teams in states or cities with lightened stay-at-home orders to let players into practice facilities to work out individually starting on May 1. That date was pushed back to May 8 after pushback from team owners and players, but Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said that the organization wouldn't reopen its complex until it knew it could ensure the safety of its players and coaches.
Some teams, including the Magic, Lakers, and Clippers, are expected to test everyone who enters the practice facility. Those teams have been told by their local governments that there is ample test capacity in those cities and that they wouldn't be taking tests away from people who need them more. It's unclear whether the Hawks have a similar plan in place, but Schlenk has repeatedly stressed that the organization wouldn't reopen its facility without being sure of its players' safety.
Most Hawks players haven't had access to a gym over the last two months -- even Trae Young has had to settle for an outdoor hoop in his driveway -- which has made it difficult to work out and stay in shape. Lloyd Pierce and the rest of Atlanta's coaching staff have kept the team connected with weekly meetings, drills, and film sessions, but there's no real substitute for actually getting on a basketball court.
The challenge is in making sure the team can return to the gym safely. NBA teams are wary of running even a minor risk that another player could contract the coronavirus, and the league doesn't want to take any unnecessary risks in rushing back to a non-essential activity.
On a leaguewide call over the weekend, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver talked through the league's options for possibly continuing the season -- including the idea of holding the playoffs in a "bubble" in Las Vegas or Orlando, where players would be isolated and frequently tested. Teams would, ideally, have at least three weeks of training camp to prepare before the season resume, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Games would be played without fans, and could remain that way until a vaccine for COVID-19 comes out.
"There's no point in adding risk for flying all of you city to city if there's not going to be fans," Silver said. "We think it would be safer to be in a single location, or two locations, to start."
On Monday, Wojnarowski reported that the NBA and NBPA agreed to extend the 60-day window that "preserves the league's right to terminate the collective bargaining agreement" due to a pandemic. The window had been set to expire this week.
Wojnarowski has previously reported that the league would need roughly 15,000 coronavirus test kits in order to pull off the bubble format, which could be challenging given the insufficient number of tests across America right now.
Resuming the season will be an uphill battle for the NBA no matter what, and at this point it still appears unlikely that the regular season or playoffs will come back in anything like their normal formats. Safely getting back on the court, however, is a positive step, even if it will be in a limited capacity.