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Roberts: Uncertainty remains as NBA practice facilities open

NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts spoke to ESPN about the League opening up practice and what it means for a possible return.

NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts speaks to the crowd as she takes part in the 2019 NBA Finals Cares Legacy Project as part of the 2019 NBA Finals on June 6, 2019 at the Ira Jinkins Recreation Center in Oakland, California. Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA opened up its practice facilities to teams around the League on Friday but only three reportedly are utilizing the facilities — the Cavaliers, Nuggets and Trail Blazers. NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts shed some light on the NBA’s return to some normalcy in an interview with ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.

First off, Roberts remains unsure when the NBA season will start back up again. I think that’s the most important thing to gather from all of this. She’s worked closely with NBA commissioner Adam Silver to work through the coronavirus pandemic, making sure the players and everyone involved are 100% safe before taking any action. Here are some details on the steps players are taking in order to practice:

— Players must show up ready to work out. No locker rooms, no showers afterward.

— Each player gets his own basketball.

— Only 6 coaches are allowed inside — we know one of them isn’t a head coach — and they’ll need to remain 12 feet away from players and wear masks and gloves.

— The Athletic’s Shams Charania had reported this as well, but players will have their temperate checked and have cardiac screenings during the sessions to make sure they’re healthy. Teams are not using test kits.

The idea around the NBA bringing back practice facilities to players is that most of them were working out anyway. The issue was they were doing it in unsafe environments, whether at a local gym or high school. So really this is the League’s attempt to control their community as opposed to letting the virus potentially spread without supervision.

The thing Roberts brings up as an issue with that — and a further issue with bringing back the regular season in a neutral location — is how can you ensure that the virus doesn’t spread? For instance, the Disney World idea was brought up. Roberts says the issue there is surveillance. You’re taking players away from families and friends, putting them in an isolated environment amongst other players. They would need to be watched to make sure the virus doesn’t enter the “bubble” or else everything falls apart. That’s where things would get a little dicey.

So we’ll likely continue to play the waiting game on a decision as to when the League will start up again. Shelburne quotes an agent as saying players will need time to “get back into town” after they get word that the NBA will be back, which could take 2-3 weeks. So even after a decision is made, there’s a buffer period as well. It’s been almost two months of this and there’s still not much clarity on the situation.