Competitive balance will be a challenge as NBA moves to open practice facilities amid pandemic

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As sections of the United States begin to gradually re-open in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA has started to begin the process of sanctioning the opening of practice facilities later this month.

In a league-wide memo that went out on late Monday, the NBA informed teams that May 8th could be the first potential date where practice facilities could be opened up for use by players for workouts or treatments on a voluntary basis.

Numerous states and local governments have announced modifications of stay-at-home order on non-essential business activity this week, a move that is giving the NBA an initial green light to start the process towards a potential resumption of the season. Up until now, all practice facilities had been ordered closed and no in-person contact between staff and players had been authorized.

A number of specific restrictions for teams and players will be in place in this initial wave of re-opening to help limit risk for team staff. The guidelines include:

—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.

The bigger question now across the league once May 8th hits is what will happen to teams that reside in ‘hot spots’ of the pandemic. One of those places is Massachusetts, where Governor Baker just extended the stay-at-home order until May 18th for non-essential businesses.

For now, all the NBA is saying is that any team that is prohibited from using their facility due to