Travis Schlenk Says Hawks Don't Plan On Reopening Practice Facility

Ben Ladner

On Saturday, ESPN reported that, starting on May 1, the NBA would allow team practice facilities to reopen in states that have loosened restrictions on stay-at-home orders and allowed other businesses to open back up. While full team practices would still be prohibited, players on eligible teams would be able to work out individually and voluntarily, giving them a safe and comfortable place to get back into the gym during the league’s current hiatus. The NBA had previously banned all use of team facilities shortly after it suspended the 2019-20 season due to COVID-19.

The change would allow Hawks players to start using the Emory Sports Medicine Complex in Atlanta, where Georgia governor Brian Kemp controversially announced last week that some small businesses like hair salons, bowling alleys, and tattoo parlors would reopen.

On Monday, however, Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk said that the team has not heard any official word from the NBA about reopening practice facilities and that the Hawks are not planning on opening their facility back up even if the league permits it.

“We have not gotten anything official from the NBA yet, to be 100 percent honest with you,” Schlenk told Atlanta broadcaster Matt Stewart. “Obviously there was a report, but the league has not sent anything out. I heard they were gonna send a memo out to us yesterday. We never received that.”

It is possible that Adrian Wojnarowski’s initial report was indeed correct and that the league has simply been slow to send the memo. But more notable than the conflicting reports is the organization’s stance to keep the practice facility closed even if the league eventually makes Wojnarowsi’s report official. Schlenk and Lloyd Pierce have repeatedly emphasized that the Hawk’s top priority is keeping players and other team personnel safe right now, and allowing re-entry to the Emory Sports Medicine Complex would create slightly greater risk that someone could contract the novel coronavirus.

“I can tell you, though, if we receive a memo between now and then, we currently have no plans to open up our facility on Friday,” Schlenk said. “Obviously the state’s going to start opening up today [Monday]. Let’s see what happens after we start to open up. The last thing we want to do is have the state open up and then see a second wave [of infection] come through. So we want to see how the state reacts to being open first before we make any decisions on our facility.”

Other businesses in Georgia, wary of contracting or spreading the coronavirus, have taken a similar stance in spite of Kemp’s decrees. “I think that’s the smart thing to do, personally,” Schlenk said.

The Hawks and the rest of the NBA will likely hear official word from the NBA on whether or when practice facilities will be able to reopen, but it seems the Hawks intend to play it safe either way. 

Update: ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday afternoon that the NBA has received "significant pushback" from various teams around the league about reopening practice facilities out of concern for player health. Teams are reportedly less concerned with teams eligible to work out gaining a competitive advantage than they are with players putting themselves at risk of contracting the coronavirus. The NBA will reportedly come up with a more detailed plan on later on Monday. 

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