If NBA basketball is to resume, it will have to be in May at the earliest. But based on the most recent release from league officials, it doesn't seem like even a May return of basketball action would indicate that the season is close to returning.
In a press release sent out by the league and shared on Twitter by Marc Stein, the league laid out several guidelines for a potential return.
One of the notable provisions is that only teams whose facilities are in the applicable cities would be able to play in their usual training surroundings. Where those "alternatives" would be for other teams was not identified in the release and will be an interesting development in the league's decision-making process.
These would not be your standard practices either, as shown by the restrictions at the bottom of the release. The fact that only four players can be in one facility at any time, without any coaches and without any live scrimmages means that this return to action, while somewhat encouraging, leaves very little hope for a full return to NBA action.
It doesn't seem like the question of playing with or without fans is much of an issue at this juncture based on the severity of these restrictions.
The announcement and the strict nature of the rules may be a response to the reported pushback from teams around the association. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN says that the safety of players and staff members is of paramount concern and was the reason for pushback, not competitive balance.
Woj also cited the Hawks as one of the specific teams who rejected the idea of opening facilities even though Georgia has "relaxed stay-at-home policies" and would potentially allow practices to take place. Governors in Georgia have allowed the reopening of barber shops, salons and spas, and the state remains one of the few that have lifted some of the stay-at-home restrictions that have swept across our nation.
Despite some of the pushback and rejection, Woj also noted that some teams are looking at this plan as a much better alternative in case players begin to seek out options that would put their health in danger. We've already seen players in other sports, like Dak Prescott, reject societal suggestions and practice in public facilities.
Shams Charania of the Athletic delivered several other nuggets from the league regarding their current plan of action.
Basketball practice with distancing of at least 12 feet is an interesting concept to imagine, and you'd have to figure that individual dribbling and shooting drills would have to be the focal point. Practicing defense seems almost impossible unless it emphasized the fundamentals and physical aspect.