Hawks reopen practice facility

Team will not seek testing for asymptomatic players/staff

The Hawks’ practice facility in Brookhaven’s Executive Park officially reopened Monday.

The facility was shut for 54 days, originally closing March 18, one week after the NBA suspended play when Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.

The team will do temperature checks before players enter the building, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, and is not seeking the testing of players/staff who are not exhibiting symptoms of the coronavirus as of now.

With Georgia gov. Brian Kemp on Thursday asking all Georgians to get tested regardless of whether they're displaying symptoms, the Hawks could ask the health department for tests, and then have that authorization approved by the NBA. But, there are concerns about the length of time it takes to receive results, per a person familiar with the situation, which can often take around 48 hours. If results were available more quickly, the Hawks might opt to test asymptomatic players/staff in the future.

The Orlando Magic recently received permission to test asymptomatic players/staff upon the reopening of their practice facility, per ESPN, as "written authorization from Orange County Health Officer Dr. Raul Pino on the availability of testing in the Orlando community has been approved by the NBA."

In markets where government restrictions have eased, the NBA is permitting teams to make their practice facilities available to players for workouts on a voluntary basis, so players are not required to come in. With Kemp lifting the state’s shelter-in-place order May 1 for most residents, Georgia qualifies.

While inside the practice facility, Hawks players and staff will maintain their social distance, and one player will be allowed at one hoop at a time. Players will not receive any medical treatment that would violate the social-distancing guidelines, with most training-room and weight-room activities held virtually, instead of in-person.

Even though the Hawks have reopened their practice facility doors, it’s not necessarily a sign the regular season is coming back anytime soon, per general manager Travis Schlenk.

“I don’t think this should be perceived as a reflection (of games potentially coming back). I think what we’re trying to do is give our guys a place to get a workout in safely,” Schlenk said.

“We’re excited to get guys back in. But I think the main thing as far as the season’s return is going to come down to the availability of rapid-response testing. And I know certainly there’s the desire of everyone involved, players, league, to get back to the season, but time is our friend in this case. We need time for all these things to become available.”

As the team begins to use the practice facility again, additional guidelines from the league will apply. No more than four players will be allowed in the facility at a time, players are not permitted to practice or scrimmage in a group, no head or assistant coaches can participate while players practice individually and players can’t use public gyms or any non-team facilities to work out.

Although many Hawks have home gyms they can use to stay in shape, others live in apartments and don’t have a place to get shots up, so the practice facility reopening gives them that option (even if it’s a pretty limited one, for now) in a controlled environment.

A news release from the league mentioned that the NBA would work to identify alternative options for teams where restrictions are still in place (seemingly not to lend any kind of competitive advantage to teams that can utilize their practice facilities).