Magic still on hold for reopening facilities
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.
Those pending results kept the holding pattern in place Wednesday, a team spokesman said. While the timetable for reopening remains fluid, the Magic anticipate having results in time for workouts to take place this week, possibly as early as Thursday, according to the spokesman.
The spread of the virus shut down the NBA season March 11, and team facilities have been closed since March 20.
The NBA said teams in markets where stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders were no longer in effect could reopen their facilities this past Friday. The other markets were allowed to reopen under “limited exceptions,” with teams needing authorization from local health officials that robust COVID-19 testing was in place. The league had asked teams not to test asymptomatic players and staff but was willing to grant exceptions in markets where there was no shortage of tests available for the community.
Dr. Raul Pino, the health officer of the Orange County Department of Health, told the Magic a robust COVID-19 testing program exists locally for healthcare workers and that asymptomatic testing is taking place in the county.
The Magic then received permission from the NBA to test players for COVID-19.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press reported 10 teams have started voluntary workouts. The Miami Heat reportedly had 12 players show up to work out Wednesday.
The league, meanwhile, has discussed taking a step toward a broader reopening.
During a Board of Governors meeting Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league would make a decision in two to four weeks about whether to resume or cancel the season, according to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.
By waiting potentially until mid-June to make its decision, the NBA can gather and utilize as much COVID-19 data as possible.
The league has discussed utilizing the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World or MGM Properties in Las Vegas in a “bubble” environment where teams would be isolated.
Last week, Silver said that under this proposal, players and personnel would have the freedom to move around but would be tested upon re-entry.
It would not be a strict “medical bubble,” Silver initially told the players on Friday and then again during Tuesday’s meeting, Charania reported.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis essentially sent out an invitation to the NBA — as well as other leagues — on Wednesday when he said the state is ready to be a host.
“All professional sports are welcome here for practicing and for playing,” DeSantis said during a news conference 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.”
The popular sentiment outside of the league appears to favor resuming the season. Owners, executives and highprofile players have said they hope the league finds a way to play.
In a memo sent Tuesday to agents, the National Basketball Players Association reportedly reaffirmed both the players and the league want to complete the season, but health and safety must be the top priorities.
Silver has acknowledged that without a COVID-19 vaccine, any plan to move forward with the season would involve some level of risk.
Still, those on Tuesday’s call came away with a sense momentum is building toward the season eventually resuming, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.