On the comeback trail Players to return to courts for the first time in almost TWO MONTHS as NBA gives green light to train

The NBA is set to take a huge step towards resuming its season by announcing that players will be allowed to return to training bases on Friday where state laws allow them to – giving some stars their first court time since March.

Voluntary individual workouts will be permitted in states including Oklahoma as elite basketball in America takes the first tentative steps towards a much-anticipated return, according to an insider who spoke to the Associated Press in exchange for anonymity ahead of an expected announcement from the league.

Group practices and workouts remain outlawed for the time being, and the NBA is said to be prepared to reach “alternative arrangements” with teams based in cities where stay-at-home orders make a return to facilities impossible next week.

The governing body does not anticipate making a decision about whether it will be able to complete this season’s schedule until May, but squads are keen to start preparing for a potential return to action, with many players suffering from a lack of opportunities to train seriously since the league was suspended on March 11.

Practice facilities have been closed to players during the indefinite ongoing suspension, sparked by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert becoming the first of at least 10 NBA players to test positive for the novel coronavirus.

Despite the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US nearing a million, states such as Georgia have already reopened gyms and other public spaces, while Utah – where tensions over the virus are thought to have run high between Jazz players after Gobert initially showed a reckless approach to containing his infection – has not issued a definitive order.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver originally announced that the suspension would last for 30 days, but was later forced to extend the break as the pandemic escalated and admit uncertainty over when play might resume in what are almost certain to be empty arenas.

Speculation around what form any conclusion to the campaign might take has included suggestions that the final games of the regular season and playoffs could be organized in a condensed form at a single site, maximizing player safety and making testing and quarantining more straightforward.

Pundits and fans have suggested that Las Vegas, which is home to around 150,000 hotel rooms and dozens of established sports venues including the Thomas & Mack Center and the MGM Grand, could be the ideal location in the search for a setting with sufficient capacity to accommodate each of the NBA’s 30 teams and host matches.

“If it’s Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe, not only on the floor but also off the floor as well, then those conversations will be had,” Lakers forward LeBron James said last week, outlining the challenges of trying to train to NBA.com.

“I’ve been able to just still be in my home gym, train as much as I can…ready for whenever our season resumes.

“I have been able to get on the court in some of my friends’ homes that they isolated for me and also just shooting on my outdoor court at home with my kids as well.”

NBA teams have played an active role in supporting communities with money and resources during the outbreak.

“We’re not at a point yet where we have a clear protocol and a path forward where we feel like we can sit down with the players and say we can resume the season,” Silver said last week, having overseen negotiations with players over salary reductions should the season not be completed.

“Human life trumps anything else you could possibly be talking about.”