For Lakers fans, the long wait may be coming to an end.
The NBA has been idle since March 11, when it became the first major U.S. sports league to shut down as the COVID-19 outbreak worsened. Two Lakers players tested positive for COVID-19 shortly thereafter.
But on Friday, ace NBA reporter Shams Charania posted a video saying the Lakers — and hopefully LeBron James — would be returning to their El Segundo practice facility on Saturday, May 16.
That was followed by a similar report from ESPN’s Lakers pro, Ramona Shelbourne.
And confirmation came when the Lakers’ veteran guard Jared Dudley shared details on Twitter.
Dudley also added that “the season will continue in in Orlando and possibly Vegas.”
That supports the theory that all the players may be sequestered in one locale for the remainder of the season in order to control COVID exposure.
Internal NBA conversations about such “Bubble” games were reported earlier this month by the New York Times.
The dean of NBA reporters Adrian Wojnarowski said earlier this week that 22 of the 30 NBA franchises are hoping to open by Monday.
An ESPN story last month broke down what were supposedly the Lakers’ plans for coronavirus prevention at the facility.
Players will have strict schedule to follow, with “slotted workout times to prevent overcrowding.” Players will be only be allowed to practice in groups of four, maximum. The area will be cleaned and sterilized between practices.
Anyone who might bump into a Lakers player at the facility will have to wear a mask and gloves. The designated rebounder for each Lakers’ player on the court will wear gloves and also have their sneakers sterilized, sources told ESPN.
Players will be provided with personal protective equipment, both at home and before entering the facility,
Hand-washing stations will be ubiquitous.
Food will be provided in individual containers, rather than via buffet in the lounge.
Here are the NBA-mandated restrictions that must be in place for teams to tip off again:
- 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.