Magic still on hold for re­open­ing fa­cil­i­ties

Orlando Sentinel - - Sports - By Roy Parry Email Roy Parry at rparry@or­lan­dosen­

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.

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