By Monday afternoon, after the Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder became the latest NBA teams to reopen their practice facilities, 17 of the 30 franchises had allowed players to return to conduct limited, voluntary workouts and rehabilitation under team supervision.
But not everyone has been invited back yet. Head coaches are not allowed to take part, according to NBA guidelines that govern how teams can reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Clippers coach Doc Rivers does not expect to remain sidelined for long.
On the same day that a small group of Clippers players returned to the team’s Playa Vista facility, Rivers reiterated his optimism that an NBA season on hold since March 11 eventually will resume.
“We have this saying right now with our team called ‘Win The Wait,’ and so we’re trying to win the wait meaning we believe there’s going to be a season, we really do,” Rivers told Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson during an interview broadcast Monday on Twitter. “And if there is we cannot let this disruption be the reason that we don’t win. We want to be fully ready if and when we get the start button.”
For now, such a restart remains only a possibility, but with more than half the league hosting individual workouts again, optimism has grown in some corners of the league. The NBA has allowed only teams in states where stay-and-home orders have been eased to reopen their doors.
Still, any optimism remains cautious, given the strict guidelines put in place to even reopen team facilities and conduct limited workouts. Some teams have asked coaches to wear masks on court. Getting into the Lakers’ El Segundo facility Saturday required guard Quinn Cook to have his temperature checked and leave his shoes outside. He described the precautionary measures during an Instagram live session with teammate Jared Dudley.
A Clippers spokesman declined to say which players, or how many, arrived Monday. League rules allow for a maximum of four players inside a facility at one time, with each player allowed to work with only one coach.
“This has been tough for everybody, let’s make that clear,” Rivers said. “For me in this period, my job has been two-fold. One has been to communicate with my players so I try to talk with them as much as I can. I try to have my staff talk to them as much as they can. We’re doing Zoom calls, we’re doing Zoom workouts now where every day our strength coach and our trainers get on with our players; we do groups of five, so three times a day, where they’re working out. They got their heart monitors on the screen. We’re checking their weight.
“And then the second part, I’ve become the vision of, like, hope. I have to give our guys hope because we’re not like every other team. There’s five or six teams that started this year, maybe more, with the dream of winning a title. So this has been interrupted.”