NBA soliciting plans, mapping timeline for return to the court

The NBA will need about a month to ramp back up before it can start the season. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
The NBA will need about a month to ramp back up before it can start the season. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The NBA is starting to solicit plans for a return to the court. Even when life returns to some normal, basketball will still have a month to ramp up.

The Amway Center right now should be gearing up for the Orlando Magic and their first playoff game. The Orlando Magic would have played their final home game of the regular season Wednesday in the season finale against the Toronto Raptors (perhaps a final preview before the teams rematched for the playoffs).

Instead, the building is getting a different purpose.

The Amway Center is going to be used as medical equipment and supplies distribution center for AdventHealth as the hospital continues to treat patients with the coronavirus and COVID-19.

"“In on-going communication with AdventHealth and the City of Orlando, it came to our attention the need for staging space for medical equipment and supplies,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said. “It is our honor to partner with the City of Orlando to provide assistance in the use of the Amway Center to meet AdventHealth’s and our community’s needs.”"

Supplying hospitals has been a big part of the stress of the coronavirus. Having a staging center for all the supplies to direct out to hospitals will surely help the hospital system stay clear and work efficiently to treat patients.

It is part of the overall larger efforts from the Magic in the community — both from the team in terms of support lent to arena workers who are out of work because of the season’s suspension and by players who have taken up various charitable causes around town to support the community.

But everyone is eager to see the NBA back in action too. At some point, the games will be played again. And the NBA wants to get back out and play soon.

But they are not rushing to get back. The league is obviously following health guidelines.

Commissioner Adam Silver said the league would re-evaluate its options again on May 1 (that is when Florida’s stay-home order is currently set to expire, but other states have extended their orders into mid-May). As Dr. Anthony Fauci says, the timeline for life to get back to normal is dependent solely on the virus. It sets the timeline.

The league seems determined still to finish this season and have a postseason whenever that might be. And Silver seems to be soliciting all ideas on how to do that.

But one thing the league has to have mapped out and ready for that day is how the league will return.

With team facilities closed and so many players without access to a gym, there is a lot of fear among NBA trainers about players coming back and getting injured if the league ramps up too quickly.

Brian Windhorst of reports the league is considering a proposal that would create a 25-day run-up time before the league starts playing again.

Under the proposal, the league would allow 11 days for team facilities to open up and for players to work out while still maintaining social distancing practices. The league would then give teams a two-week training camp.

This all makes sense. While most teams — including the Magic — have supplied players with training equipment to keep them somewhat in shape, everyone recognizes there is no replacing actual game and practice time. Players are going to be extremely rusty and out of basketball shape.

Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic /

Orlando Magic

And that has everyone concerned about injuries.

Trainers and team medical staff are worried that jumping right back into games without a warmup period could lead to more injuries. The league is listening very closely to them to determine how to get the league back into action.

Injuries were a major concern during the lockout-shortened 2012 season. The league had a shortened training camp that year but while players were kept out of team facilities, they could still find a court and work on their skills and play basketball.

That is not an option right now. The league wants to avoid any odd underuse injuries coming from players rushing back to high-intensity games and they want to avoid ragged play. A ramp-up period of about a month should help with that.

A month feels like the minimum.

Of course, none of this is going to happen until the virus is under control and there are easier ways to test and innoculate players. With players being in close contact, the chances of spreading the virus again throughout the NBA community is too great. The league will not restart if it does not feel confident the league can finish free of the virus.

That is a much more difficult thing to wait on. It remains the bigger mystery of fighting the virus and returning to normal life.

So when medical officials give the all-clear to return to some facets of normal life and the league believes it can restart, we will still be at least a month away from basketball resuming. At least then it will be good to have the team together and the league operating at least somewhat normally.

But, of course, that is still a long way away.

Next. Magic Madness: The Final Four. dark

For more information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website or the website for your state’s Department of Health.