It has been a tumultuous week in NBA land, as teams with gutted rosters and health and safety hoops to jump through, try to navigate the increasingly murky waters surrounding the progression of the 2020/21 season.
Today, the NBA moved proactively, trying to implement a number of new health and safety regimes, designed to try and curb the spread of the illness, and to decrease the number of games being postponed, or going ahead with half-complete rosters available to suit up.
According to the NBA, the following guidelines will now be put in place, effective immediately:
- Players in their home market are required to remain in their residence for at least the next two weeks, “except to attend team-related activities at the team facility or arena, exercise outside, or perform essential activities, or as a result of extraordinary circumstances.” When home from work, players may only interact with “household members, family and any personal staff working regularly in the home.”
- Players on the road are not permitted to leave their team hotel “other than for team activities or emergencies. They are no longer able to interact with “non-team guests” at the hotel.
- Individuals who regularly visit a player or team staff’s home for professional purposes must be tested for COVID-19 twice a week. If a player tests positive or a staff member is at high risk, “the NBA may require players and team staff to undergo five consecutive days of twice-per-day, lab-based testing, in addition to daily point-of-care testing.”
- Players are restricted from arriving at the arena prior to three hours before tipoff. Before and after games, interactions between players are limited to “elbow or fist bumps.” Players are also encouraged to “avoid extended socializing and maintain six feet of distance as much as possible.”
- Players are required to wear face masks on the bench, in the locker room, during strength and conditioning activities and when traveling with a non-household member. “Cool-down chairs” spaced six feet apart and not requiring masks will be provided at least 12 feet from the bench for players exiting the game. Cooled-down players must return to their assigned seats on the bench with a mask.
- Pregame locker room meetings are limited to no more than 10 minutes for at least the next two weeks, and everyone in attendance must wear a face mask. All other meetings between players and team staff also require face masks and must take place “on the court, in a league-approved space, or at the arena in a room large enough to provide for at least six feet of distance between individuals.”
- Teams are required to form seating charts to ensure players who sit closest to each other on the bench must also do the same on the team plane.
- Massages, physical therapy and other treatment sessions at hotels require face masks and must be performed “in a ballroom or other large open space,” providing 12 feet of space between players.
The announcements come after three games were postponed in two days, whilst the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers will play later today, with eight and nine active players available on their respective rosters.