Appearing on ESPN’s The Lowe Post podcast, Celtics pr…

Appearing on ESPN’s The Lowe Post podcast, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he’s hopeful the team’s practice facility will open next week in advance of the suspended NBA season resuming in the coming months. “Massachusetts has been one of the slowest in opening things up. Our next phase is, we’ll open up our facility. We’re hoping to do it next week,” he told ESPN’s Zach Lowe. “It’s 1-on-1… one coach, one player. Coaches with masks and gloves. Players in the gym, disinfect the gym. I don’t think anybody’s afraid of that”

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“Our facility has been really odd because we have to do one guy to a basket and we have four main baskets at our facility, and everybody is in masks and gloves,” Love told Yahoo Sports on Thursday. “It’s really odd to have a rebounder in a mask, in these latex gloves, throwing passes and throwing you a ball. You almost have to put that out of your mind and act like it’s not even there. The players are the only people not shooting with the gloves on.”
“I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like getting back and playing with no fans or fans kind of scattered out through the arena. It's going to be really, really odd to see how sports slowly start to roll themselves out, but I think it’s needed,” Love told Yahoo Sports. “It’s just such a way to — even for us, too — get out of our own heads and just go and compete. Sport has a commonality to it that, it just plays itself out and has a unique brand of storytelling that’s unraveling right before your eyes. I’m fingers crossed for the season to resume.”
A league source told The Sacramento Bee the coronavirus shutdown has already taken a huge financial toll on the Kings, who are bracing for what might be tens of millions of dollars in uninsured losses. The source said the stoppage in NBA play and live events at Golden 1 Center is having a “tremendous impact to the bottom line,” saying “over half of the team’s revenue is generated from hosting ticketed events in the arena.”
The 35-year-old basketball player, like everyone, has been self-isolating at home as the coronavirus pandemic continues. But once — or if — the NBA season restarts, Chris Paul tells PEOPLE he'll be prepared. "You know, it's funny, when I was home for that first week or two, and it was like, 'Man, this is so nice,' because I live in Oklahoma without my family, so it was like it's so nice to be here, see my kids, see my wife and everything," he explains. "And then after a couple of weeks, I woke up and I looked at my wife — and it was crazy — I told her, I said, 'Babe, I miss it. Like I miss playing basketball like I need to play basketball.' "
What about moving [the Nets] to a neutral site [in order to practice]? Too complicated, said the league source, and it hasn’t been discussed. How soon will the situation be resolved and if it isn’t, could the Nets work out elsewhere? At this point, no one is saying. Stay tuned.
As the NBA moves closer to a decision on what do with its suspended season amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Orlando Magic continue to play the waiting game. The Magic did not reopen their facilities Wednesday for voluntary individual player workouts as they had hoped. The team initially had planned to reopen Tuesday, then delayed opening a day as it waited for COVID-19 test results on asymptomatic players and staff who would be present for workouts.
Texas’ professional sports teams want to resume playing games, Texas Sen. John Cornyn said Wednesday after participating in a video meeting with officials from many of the state’s major league franchises. But the likes of the Dallas Cowboys, the Dallas Mavericks, the Texas Rangers and others “don’t want to be sued into oblivion” or be “responsible for a public health outbreak” when they return to the field or court amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the senator said.
The senator also predicted that Americans are going to see “a lot more monitoring of people who come into public facilities for elevated temperatures, indicating that they have a fever,” along with “more widespread testing to give people the confidence they need.” “You can just imagine with the universities and the professional sporting events, that they need some confidence that what they’re doing won’t get them in trouble, either legally or from a public health standpoint,” Cornyn said. Cuban, while generally agreeing with the senator, disagreed on the point about temperature testing, explaining that “anyone can crush and eat a few Tylenol to beat any system.”
Larry Nance Jr. is one of the few NBA players who have been able to work out after teams were granted permission to reopen their training facilities, which have been closed nearly two months by a virus outbreak that has paused the season and placed its conclusion in peril. Nance returned to the Cavs' complex on Friday, and for two hours, the 27-year-old felt whole again. ''This is the longest I haven't played a game of basketball in my entire life,'' he said Tuesday on a Zoom conference call.
Nance, who acknowledged getting a coronavirus test out of ''panic'' in March, said that while the conditions are somewhat surreal for practicing, he felt secure because of masks - and other safety measures. ''For me that just provides a sense of security,'' he said of the facial coverings. ''You get your own two basketballs - that's it. You have your one coach wearing masks and gloves that are unique to you. Even in the weight room, you pick up a weight, and if I was using 45s (pounds), nobody else that day was allowed to use the 45s until they were cleaned and sterilized, so to me it was so well regimented that I feel pretty safe going.''
"It felt great at the beginning, started off making all my shots, everything felt good, like riding a bike," Haslem said. "Toward the end, then I got a little fatigued. My wind was good, but definitely legs get fatigued, no matter how hard you work out or what you do. You can never simulate game legs and getting up shots and repetitions like that.
The NBA is now one-third of the way back, at least in terms of voluntary workouts. With Miami re-opening its doors Wednesday, 10 of the league's 30 teams have gone forward with on-court individual workouts - the first permitted sessions since the league ordered teams to close their training facilities as part of the coronavirus pandemic response about two months ago.
Besides the Heat, the other teams that have opened so far are Portland, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Denver, Atlanta, Indiana, Sacramento, Toronto and Utah. More are expected in the coming days; among them, Orlando is close, and the Los Angeles Lakers are targeting Saturday.
This week – and the weeks to come – will be different. The practice facility – the hub of Raptors life throughout the year – has been shuttered for two months following the suspension of the NBA season due to COVID-19. Forward Malcolm Miller and Raptors assistant coach Brittni Donaldson were the first members of the team in the building on Monday morning when it opened for the first time for limited use.
Already waiting was a member of the Raptors’ medical staff, who took their temperature – anyone above 99.1F [37.3C] is sent home. Then they had to fill out a survey of their symptoms. Then – while wearing masks – they proceeded directly to the gym floor, as the players’ locker rooms, coaches’ offices, the weight room, treatment facilities and lounge all remain on lockdown. They weren’t allowed to be within 12 feet of one another.
“It definitely felt strange, I missed it,” said Malcolm Miller, who has been ‘eating’ the team-supplied weights in workouts at home in an effort to come out of the lockdown with a few more pounds of muscle on his slender frame. “It was a good experience just to have the basketball in your hands, feel the basketball and just get back to the game you love, even in a different format.”
ESPN, Fox, NBC, CBS and Turner Sports, according to sources, have experimented with the idea of using virtual reality to enhance the at-home viewing experience, by superimposing realistic-looking fans onto screens. The idea is in its infancy and there is a mixture of opinions toward it, but it is something the networks are playing with as fan-less games appear to be the immediate reality.
Sportscasters increasingly not being on site, at least for the time being, is the new normal though. The lack of fans in attendance will allow for the increased use of drones and different, potentially closer camera angles. It also will lead to new challenges. “Audio becomes a big issue,” ESPN’s executive vice president of production Stephanie Druley said. “Now, you can pick up everything that is being said. We have had discussions about really leaning into the audio as part of the broadcast.”
Florida's Ron DeSantis became the second governor to announce that his state is open to professional sports teams that want to resume activity amid the coronavirus pandemic. "All professional sports are welcome here for practicing and for playing," DeSantis said at a news conference Wednesday in Tallahassee. "What I would tell commissioners of leagues is, if you have a team in an area where they just won't let them operate, we'll find a place for you here in the state of Florida."
NBA opinion-leaders Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal are on-record saying that COVID-19 is enough now to give up the season. NBA opinion-leader Mark Cuban - as cautious as he continues to be about needing a return from hiatus to "be perfect'' - says Barkley and Shaq are off-base. "I love those guys but they're wrong," Cuban said. "Guys want to play, there's still a season to be finished out, I still think we can play a few games and then go into the playoffs and crown a champion... let's go, let's play."
Sports Illustrated and the New York Times report the MGM Grand in Las Vegas has offered its facilities to house players and host games in a "fully quarantined campus." “It would be like a bubble, it would be very strict. It would be testing before you got there. There would be testing for the two weeks while you were there for the 'incubation period.' And then there would be nobody coming or going for the entire time. So it would be a sacrifice, guys wouldn’t be able to see their families, their kids, things like that. But it’s what would have to be done because health and safety is the number one priority, so that’s what they’re trying to figure out now and I think that’s the most difficult part," Connaughton said.
How much risk is worth playing for the NBA and its players? Commissioner Adam Silver repeated the phrase from his call with all NBA players on Friday to the Board of Governors on Tuesday, and that message will ring throughout the league over the next several weeks. Here is what you should know following Tuesday’s call with the Board of Governors, which The Athletic has learned via multiple sources.
Ultimately, everyone involved has understood the significant financial ramifications if the season is not able to finish. Silver told players on a call Friday and reiterated on Tuesday to the owners: Perhaps public perception will have changed, but the situation we are dealing with may be the same, if not worse, in the fall or winter.
How would a potential return look? One or two locations — such as Disney World in Orlando or Las Vegas — and this playing grounds environment that Silver described Tuesday: Players/personnel able to move around, but undergo testing upon re-entry. This would mean that people involved in the isolated city environment would be re-examined before any return to the remainder of the pack. It would not be a strict “medical bubble,” Silver said to the players and again on Tuesday.
NBA players want to resume the 2019-20 season with the regular season and a full playoff schedule, “if it is safe to do so,” the National Basketball Players Association told agents in a memo sent on Tuesday. The memo came as ESPN reported NBPA regional representatives reached out to players for an informal survey asking if they want to return this season. While informal, responses were overwhelmingly in favor of resuming the season, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive nature of the topic.
In the memo, “if it is safe to do” was underscored, emphasizing the challenge facing sports as they attempt to come back. The memo briefly recapped Friday’s NBPA players meeting that included a session with commissioner Adam Silver. The memo confirmed that “any such resumption would not include fans in arenas, and would likely take place at a single site, but again, it is far too early to speculate on whether any such plan will be implemented.” The union said it formed a joint committee of NBPA staffers, outside experts and players Chris Paul, Dwight Powell, Kyle Lowry, Jayson Tatum and Russell Westbrook.
Silver told those on the call that if a positive test would "shut us down, we probably shouldn't go down this path." The question remains: How many positive tests would be too many, and those are among the questions that the NBA, NBPA and medical experts have to come to terms with in the coming weeks before the league and union can greenlight a resumption of play.
In a conference with players on Friday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated that he couldn’t guarantee the safety of the players if play resumed in a city where they would be quarantined, but assured them the league would do everything in its power to make the safest conditions possible, sources said. That didn’t sit well with some players, sources said, with a vaccine not expected to be available for a year or two.
The majority of players who are essentially eliminated from postseason contention would rather the league start back up with the top eight teams in each conference competing in some sort of playoff, sources said. For some players out of the playoff picture, there’s concern a canceled season could negatively affect the next CBA, sources said. Silver said he doesn’t have to make a decision on the season until some point in June.
Jared Dudley: Safety obviously 1st! No where will be as safe as the NBA compound site they determine but, I Don’t think players know the effects of NOT playing does too next year. This is bigger then My team isnt in the playoffs so who cares! No playoffs, no tv money, NEW CBA next year!
Mark Cuban: I don’t know. But there’s a bigger collective goal here as well. People need sports, and could you imagine a different league that has an opportunity to come back and if your team, even if you’re in last place, didn’t want to play? That’s not going to be a good situation to be in, whether you’re a fan of that team or anybody in that organization. I think people will play. Guys realize there’s something bigger at stake. And that’s the best way to put it. NBA players are smart. They recognize there’s something bigger at stake than, you know, the aggravation of playing five, six, seven, whatever-it-may-be more regular-season games even if they’re completely out of the playoffs.
Following up on your comments to Mark Followill and Brian Dameris on our podcast, where you said the Mavericks facility won’t open until testing is widely available: What specifically does widely available mean to you and what’s the importance of it? Mark Cuban: I’ll use the White House protocol. The way the White House protects the president and vice president is the way that I want to protect our players and employees, you know? We’ll just try to just copy what they do as a means of knowing when the time is right. As of now, for all we know, for all we’ve been informed, anyways, they’re testing everybody. And they test their top people on a daily basis. And so they have access to the best science, the best information, and so it just makes sense to me that we just copy them.
The Orlando Magic will not reopen team facilities Tuesday for voluntary individual player workouts amid the coronavirus pandemic as they had tentatively planned last week. The team now plans to reopen Wednesday, but even that is subject to change, according to the spokesman. The Magic continue to await COVID-19 test results for players and staff who will be on hand for workouts, according to the spokesman.
TJ McBride: Two sources have confirmed that the Denver Nuggets practice facility has been opened today in accordance with Colorado Department of Health and NBA guidelines. Nuggets’ players are now able to set time with trainers to get shots up or lift at the practie facility.
The Warriors laid off 1,720 part-time event staff in mid-March — the largest cuts at a single Bay Area location to date during coronavirus — according to a recent state filing with the California Employment Development Department. Though the report doesn’t specify the duration of the layoffs, team spokesman Raymond Ridder told The Chronicle that the employees will return to work as soon as Chase Center is allowed to begin hosting events again.
Ira Winderman: The Miami Heat have been cleared to and will move ahead as planned for individual player workouts at AmericanAirlines Arena starting Wednesday. Still out of town are Jimmy Butler, Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill, who all are in California. No COVID testing, but temperature checks.
Among Utah Jazz players, Ingles' situation is far more common than Conley’s—just one reason Jazz officials were thrilled to allow players to enter the team’s practice facility Monday for the first time since the Coronavirus outbreak shut down the NBA on March 11. Jazz officials confirmed “a handful of Utah Jazz players participated in voluntary, individual workouts” at the facility on Monday.
Chris Mannix: Several Jazz players participated in voluntary, individual workouts today at the teams practice facility, per team. Workouts were in accordance with Utah Department of Health and NBA regulations.
When the season was suspended on March 11 because of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Pistons had 16 regular-season games remaining, with eight at Little Caesars Arena. That included marquee games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets. Whether those games will be played in front of fans is unlikely, but the Pistons are offering a credit to be used when that game is rescheduled, to a game next season or get a refund.
Mark Cuban believes the NBA can still salvage its 2019-20 season, despite it being suspended for two months and counting amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Dallas Mavericks owner pointed to Dec. 25 as the start date for next season and then said you just have to work backward for a potential timeline to resume this season. Most teams, Cuban said, would not be playing an extended schedule as there’s a limited number of teams that would advance through the playoffs.
Simply put, Cuban just wants the sport to return in some fashion. He believes the level of play will be just as good, if not better, than what NBA fans saw coming out of the 2011 lockout. “Anything we show is going to be better than what we have right now,” Cuban said. “It’ll be good enough, right? We just want our sports. We just want to root for the Mavs, the Cowboys, the Stars, the Rangers, etc. If it’s not perfect, I don’t think anybody is going to mind.”
The Mavericks could request fans sign up for an arrival time at a specific parking spot, Cuban said, where they’ll then receive a predetermined path to walk to their gate. Upon passing through AAC security, a guide could lead fans to their seats, separated from other guests. “We may do that almost like Disneyland, do it like there’s a procession and you have people guiding you to your seat,” Cuban said. “Or the example I use is more like a haunted house where you wait in line and you go through the haunted house, but you’re not allowed to touch anything, and everybody just is guided to their seats at the right time. It may take a little bit longer for everybody to get into their seats to start the game, but we’ll accommodate that and go from there.”
To prevent the spread of the coronavirus via contaminated surfaces, Cuban highlighted potential artificial intelligence, such as a service tool similar to Amazon’s Alexa, to allow fans a way to verbally request needs, rather than moving around and touching items. “There’s just so many things that we’re trying to deal with. There’s a lot of natural [decontamination] and sterilization tools that we can use to keep the arena clean,” Cuban said. “There’s all these things that have to be considered, and we’re trying to put together a list now.”
The NBA had the ability to terminate the CBA under the force majeure event provision for the two months starting on the March 11, when the season was suspended. There's optimism that the NBA and union can work through these issues and agree on how the league's financial landscape will be recalibrated on a number of issues, including the 2020-21 salary cap and luxury tax thresholds, sources said.
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Following his starring role in the Space Jam remake, LeBron James is heading back behind the camera to produce Rez Ball, a Native American basketball drama for Netflix. Rez Ball is described as Friday Night Lights meets Hoosiers. The story, according to the project’s description, “follows the Chuska Warriors, a Native American high school basketball team from Chuska, New Mexico, that must band together after losing their star player if they want to keep their quest for a state championship alive. It’s an all-American underdog story about Navajo kids and coaches told from the inside-out.”
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