OKC Thunder captain Chris Paul appeared on the Late, Late Show stating he felt players would require at least a month to be physically prepared for the playoffs.
Many States and Provinces have started to ease up the stay at home mandates allowing more businesses to open. The focus is to continue to practice safe distancing and consciously wear the appropriate PPE. That includes NBA teams opening up their practice facilities although the OKC Thunder has yet to do so.
It’s expected 22 of the 30 teams will open their practice facilities by this coming Monday, May 18th, and again there is no indication the OKC Thunder are among those 22 clubs.
In fact, when Sam Presti spoke to the media via video call he indicated the club was not yet ready to do so. That’s not to say the GM wasn’t working toward this goal, rather the Thunder tends to be cautious and also doesn’t prematurely leak information until it’s concrete.
The other big news this week was Adam Silver’s statement that he expects to make a decision on whether the NBA season will return within the next two to four weeks. Every indication from players, owners, and the league is the hope for a return.
Tying the two statements together a logical thread to make is why would the league bother to have all 30 teams (including the current lottery teams) return if they weren’t hoping to get in some regular-season games.
In a discussion about this matter with T.I. writer Rylan Stiles he made a great point – -even with teams making every effort to thoroughly clean the facility and equipment it wouldn’t make sense to expose players even minimally if there weren’t plans to have them play. In other words, if the NBA had already decided to jump directly into the playoffs they wouldn’t risk bringing back lottery teams.
Assuming the league is gearing up for a return, clearly, the next phase would be training camps and something resembling preseason play. How many weeks this portion of a schedule would be will be crucial to ensuring players have ample time to get back in shape in order to avoid unnecessary injury.
The speculation has varied from two or three weeks. However, those projections might be on the low side based on what Chris Paul is saying. To that end, the Thunder captain appeared on the Late, Late Show with James Cordon last night indicating at least a full month would be required in preparation for the playoffs.
Paul has always stated he felt the training camp period would need to be lengthy. This isn’t just a player spouting his personal opinion. Rather, this is a well-informed individual who has talked to many of his peers. Given CP3’s position as President of the NBPA, he’s in constant contact with player representatives and talking to his peers constantly.
In prior interviews, Paul noted how varied living situations are for players. Some live in apartments or condos without access to gyms, weights, or hoops.
Age will also play a factor since the association isn’t going to want some of the stars like LeBron James or Chris Paul rushing back only to get injured because they didn’t take the appropriate time to prepare their bodies for games.
For the moment players will return to the facilities and get up shots to begin shaking off the rust. The next phase will be allowing players to conduct scrimmages and that stage is likely still several weeks away.
If Paul’s estimation is accurate that would seem to align with late June to mid-July return at the earliest.
Moving forward, the league will be watching all the sports leagues that have returned with a keen interest in how they address any positive tests.