Hawks will not open practice facility Friday, NBA target date is now May 8

Credit: Austin McAfee

Credit: Austin McAfee

NBA teams could open practice facilities, under guidelines, beginning May 8, the league announced Monday.

Despite previous reports that beginning Friday, the league would allow the reopening of team practice facilities in states such as Georgia, where local shelter-in-place restrictions have been dialed back, the Hawks had no plans to open, according to general manager Travis Schlenk.

Schlenk said the Hawks want to be cautious and wait to see the effect of those loosened restrictions. The Hawks would want to see how things unfold before making a decision to reopen the facility at a future date, when they feel it’s safe.

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“We’re going to put the health of our players and staff at the forefront,” Schlenk said.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp allowed the reopening of certain businesses April 24, including gyms, bowling alleys and salons, provided they comply with certain safety standards and social-distancing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the NBA: “The league is planning to modify its guidance regarding the use of team practice facilities and player training. The purpose of these changes is to allow for safe and controlled environments for players to train in states that allow them to do so, and to create a process for identifying safe training options for players located in other states.”

The league announcement said the May 8 date could be pushed back “if developments warrant.”

The potential rules changes would allow teams to make their practice facilities available for use by the team’s players for workouts or treatment on a voluntary, individual basis if the team’s facility is in a city that is no longer subject to a government restriction. For any team that, because of a government restriction, is prohibited from making its facility available for use by the team’s players, the league will work with the team to identify alternatives.

The following restrictions would apply:

• No more than four players would be permitted at a facility at any one time.

• No head or assistant coaches could participate.

• Group activity remains prohibited, including practices or scrimmages.

• Players remain prohibited from using non-team facilities such as public health clubs, fitness centers, or gyms.

A date to open training facilities on a limited basis does not mean the resumption of the season is imminent. However, it is a first step in the process.

The NBA season has been suspended since March 11, and the Hawks closed their practice facility March 18.