Lakers Aiming to Open Practice Facility; Team Outlines Protocol
The NBA announced it would allow teams to open their facilities for voluntary workouts beginning May 8. Because a shelter-at-home order for Los Angeles residents is in place until May 15, the Lakers are in contact with the mayor’s office about opening their practice facility early.
The Lakers have outlined safety protocol to city officials and their own players over a conference call held by general manager Rob Pelinka and coach Frank Vogel.
Should the Lakers receive the city’s blessing to conduct workouts, they’ll do so at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo.
However, the team’s few players who are currently out of town have not been told when to return to the city.
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The workouts being discussed would be voluntary, but team sources have noted that the players sound eager to return to the court after not having any basketball since the NBA suspended play on March 11.
According to reports, the team’s approach is to be overly cautious if granted approval to open up the practice facility for voluntary workouts. The cleanliness of the facility and health of the players will be the responsibility of Lisa Estrada, who will assume the required role of facility hygiene officer.
Strict Rules In Place for Return
The Lakers’ strict protocol for any return begins with scheduling, which will include slotted times for players to avoid overcrowding. Ninety-minute workout periods will be filled by groups of up to four players at a time, each with their own half-court.
The schedule would also allow for a cleaning and sterilization period between sessions.
As players arrive at the facility, they’ll be provided a mask should they leave theirs at home, as well as any other personal protective equipment. Before accessing the building, players will also have their temperatures taken and answer questions asked by a medical professional.
To allow for more space, the weight room is set to be rearranged by team personnel. The Lakers will also be installing hand-washing stations and will scrap a buffet meal style in favor of individual meal containers.
Any person the players may come in contact with at the practice facility will be required to wear a mask and gloves, and each player’s designated rebounder will wear gloves and sterilized sneakers.
For now, the Lakers’ plan does not include more coronavirus testing for players. This falls in line with commissioner Adam Silver’s previous pledge to not implement large-scale testing in the NBA until health care workers have ample access to tests.
No Official Target Date to Resume Play
While the NBA is gearing up for voluntary workouts in the first half of May, there’s still no official date for the resumption of the 2019-20 season.
Before basketball can return, players will have to be allowed time to regain game fitness while the league determines the parameters for a safe and fair conclusion to the campaign.
When the NBA is able to return, the Lakers will be one of the teams most excited to finish out the season. With a record of 49-14, the Lakers sit atop the Western Conference and own a 5.5-game lead over the Clippers.
It’s highly unlikely that any team would be able to catch the Lakers before the beginning of the postseason, especially considering any remaining regular season would be shortened.
In the Eastern Conference, the 53-12 Bucks own the league’s best record alongside a 6.5-game lead over the Raptors.
Three contenders continue to lead the way in the battle for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Bucks are favorites to win it all with odds of +240, but the Lakers are close behind with odds of +270.
Before making the jump to the +1200 Rockets, who own the fourth-best odds, the Clippers and their +340 odds round out the top three contenders.