The Dallas Mavericks will not open their practice facility Friday, a team spokesman said Thursday, though the NBA plans to allow teams in states with loosened stay-at-home restrictions to open their buildings for voluntary individual workouts.
It’s unclear when the Mavericks will decide otherwise as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt global health and economics.
“As always, safety is our No. 1 concern,” the team said in a statement to The Dallas Morning News. “We will not do anything in any one of our properties until we are certain we can keep everyone safe.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said on the 77 Minutes in Heaven podcast that allowing players to reconvene despite limited public access to testing is a risk “not worth the reward.”
The NBA’s plan to allow use of team facilities stems from concern players might travel or use reopened public gyms. The league’s guidelines will allow no more than four players in a facility at one time, including only one player per basket; no head or assistant coach participation; no group practice or scrimmages; and no player use of non-team health clubs, fitness centers or gyms.
Just three franchises — Cleveland, Denver and Portland — have reportedly decided to reopen Friday. In Texas, the Houston Rockets are planning to open May 18, when Gov. Greg Abbott has scheduled the reopening of gyms in the state. The San Antonio Spurs have not announced a target date.
The NBA last week announced a May 8 target date — no earlier, but possibly later — for teams in states with loosened stay-at-home restrictions to reopen practice facilities for limited individual workouts.
The potential move prompts several questions:
If the league does soften its facility closures ruling, will it signal a timeline or intent for games to return? How will each organization handle the logistics? What model will the NBA follow as leagues across the world hope to resume play this summer?
Cuban has access inside the NBA’s discussions to plan, but he, too, is waiting for answers.
Specifically, from scientists.
“We listen to health experts, not politicians,” Cuban wrote Monday in an email to The Dallas Morning News. “When the NBA provides us with confirmation that it’s safe for our guys to move forward, we will move forward.”
Since the NBA suspended the season March 11, Cuban has changed his initially optimistic timeline.
Soon after the decision, which came during the third quarter of a Mavericks-Nuggets game and prompted a visibly surprised reaction from Cuban, the Mavericks’ owner said he hoped the league would begin “to get back to normal” in mid-May.
“That obviously is not going to happen,” Cuban wrote.
Cuban has tempered hopes for what a potential reopening of some practice facilities could mean.
The NBA’s purpose for modifying closures “is to allow for safe and controlled environments for players to train in states that allow them to do so,” the league said in a statement.
That Abbott allowed the state’s stay-at-home order to expire May 1 means the Mavericks could be one franchise to follow the NBA’s new guidelines.
The NBA will allow for no more than four players permitted at a facility at one time, no head or assistant coach participation, no group activity, including practices or scrimmages, and no player use of non-team, public facilities.
Cuban didn’t commit to the Mavericks’ expanding their facility use. Nor did he offer his thoughts on whether the NBA will find a solution to resume the current season, one in which the Mavericks were on pace to earn their first playoff berth since 2016.
“It’s safety first. Nothing else matters,” he wrote. “Once the science is there we all will know it exists, and we all will be excited about life moving forward."
Cuban considered the same sentiment while hypothesizing about operations and customs throughout sports in the years after the coronavirus pandemic is contained.
Uncertainty about combating the highly contagious virus spread and the unprecedented nature of global health and economic disruptions prompt Cuban to look toward advancements in science as a barometer for resuming typical, daily activity.
“It depends on how effective a vaccine and therapies are,” Cuban wrote. “If it’s as effective as a flu shot and therapies exist to resolve the other issues the virus can create, then we go back to where we were with fans in the stands.
“Problem is we don’t know how and when that will happen."