As several states slowly open up after mandated lockdowns to combat the coronavirus, the NBA is planning to allow teams in those markets to open up their practice facilities in a restricted manner next Friday. That has, of course, brought up concerns about competitive balance with roughly half the teams in the league playing and practicing in areas that are still under government mandated lockdown protocols.
Among those are the Los Angeles Lakers as well as the other three teams playing in California: the Clippers, Kings and Warriors. There is currently no set date for California’s stay-at-home order to expire despite Governor Gavin Newsom maintaining that the state will slowly open businesses back up.
With the Lakers and Clippers among the favorites for the NBA championship this season, should it resume, it’s no shock that they would not be totally pleased with the competitive disadvantage of their rivals being allowed to practice, albeit in a restricted manner.
In fact, according to The Athletic, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, as well as representatives from all four NBA teams in California, have lobbied state health officials and the governor to convince them to allow for the reopening of practice facilities:
Sources say all four of the league’s California teams (Lakers, Clippers, Warriors, Kings) are hoping to convince Governor Gavin Newsom to include them in “Stage 2” of his reopening plan, perhaps with the help of the mayors in their respective cities. As Newsom detailed via Twitter on Tuesday, that stage would include “gradually reopening some lower-risk workplaces with adaptations.”
The hope, if he agreed to do so, is that those teams could return to their facilities by the third week in May.
Again, this is not shocking and from a sporting perspective, it’s easy to see why these teams want their facilities opened up. But doing so also carries the risk of preemptively breaking protocols designed to slow the spread of the virus and despite the NBA’s reported 19-page memo sent to teams about how to ensure the health and safety of players and staff, there will be a heightened risk if these workplaces are opened up once again.
The NBA and other sport leagues across the world are desperate to reopen competition with their revenues cratering. The same can be said of all parties within the leagues, including the Lakers who applied for a small business loan that they acquired before returning to the government after some blowback about large corporations getting that money.
On the other hand, the health and safety of everyone involved is paramount and the risk of spreading the virus and potentially creating a second wave and peak of infections could be too high for such a decision to be made right now.