SAN ANTONIO — With the country still struggling to contain the coronavirus, only three of the NBA’s 30 teams are expected to reopen their workout facilities Friday.
The Spurs won’t be among them.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said last week that teams would be allowed to reopen their practice facilities on May 8 for limited voluntary workouts in “areas with relaxed social distancing guidelines."
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers have announced they will return to their workout facilities Friday, according to multiple media outlets. Those same outlets all have included the Spurs among the teams not reopening their facilities Friday.
While the Spurs have not commented on the matter this week, franchise CEO R.C. Buford said last Thursday that the team was taking a wait-and-see approach.
“We’re going to make that decision as we get more information, as we have more data around our own local environment as well as the national environment, and doing what we can to create a safe place for the team to come back together,” Buford said in a Zoom conference with the local media.
“We’re not putting any dates on it. It’s going to be more (about) how we get the information that we need to be comfortable to provide the right atmosphere for our player," Buford said.
The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets also plan to wait to reopen their facilities. The Rockets had planned to return to their facilities Friday, but are now pointing to May 18, according to reports.
NBA facilities have been closed since March 11, when Silver suspended the season after Utah Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the deadly COVID-19 virus that has killed nearly 80,000 Americans.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott allowed his statewide stay-at-home order to expire at the end of April, signaling the start of a phased exit from the social-distancing guidelines geared to mitigate the pandemic. The stay-and-home mandate ended on the same day Buford spoke to the local media.
Asked whether Abbott’s decision to lift the order would make it more likely the Spurs would reopen their workout facility on May 8, Buford said: “The only thing I would say in that respect is that state and community guidelines aren’t always the same, and so we’ll be reviewing those with the day that we have.”
The league set the following guidelines for workouts at its facilities:
- 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.
Players must wear facemasks in team facilities at all times, except during physical activity, and team staffers must stand at least 12 feet away from players.
The NBA has prohibited players from having physical contact with coaches and staff since the season was suspended. Players also have not been allowed to use their team's workout or training facilities.
Before the country was turned on its head and live sports events still saturated TV programming, the Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks 119-109 on March 10 at the AT&T Center.
One day later, Silver stunned the sports world when he announced that the league was suspending the season.
Silver acted swiftly after Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, postponing the Jazz-Thunder game in the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City just before tipoff. As it turned out, Jazz star guard Donovan Mitchell also tested positive.
The Spurs (27-36) trailed the Grizzlies by four games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference when play was halted. San Antonio was 12th in the West standings with 19 games left on its schedule.
The Silver and Black have made the playoffs an NBA record-tying 22 consecutive seasons, all under coach Gregg Popovich, who has led the franchise to all five of its NBA titles.
San Antonio hasn't had a losing season since 1996-97 when Hall of Famer Tim Duncan was at Wake Forest.