- Covers the Oklahoma City Thunder for ESPN.com
Should the NBA set a plan in place to restart in the coming months, it will need to include a runway of “at least” three or four weeks for players to prepare to play games, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul said Wednesday.
“I’m just letting you know — and I don’t think the league would do it anyway — but if they were like, ‘Hey, you got two weeks, and then we’re going,’ that’s not going to happen,” Paul, who is serving his seventh year as National Basketball Players Association president, said via a conference call. “That’s not going to happen. Whatever the amount of time is, just know that players will have the input, the say-so, because we’re the ones playing. That comes first. We don’t ever want to put guys in a situation where their injury risk is higher than ever before.”
Since the league was suspended on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus, many players haven’t had access to training facilities or even basketball goals. Paul said he hasn’t shot in a basketball gym since the layup lines prior to his team’s game against the Jazz on March 11.
Charlotte Hornets coach James Borrego told reporters Wednesday that he thinks players would need “multiple weeks” to get back into basketball shape for game action. He noted that unlike during previous work stoppages, such as a lockout season, players aren’t playing regular 5-on-5 against anyone.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported last week that a 25-day program has been proposed in which players would go through 11 days of individual workouts that would include a measure of social distancing and then, if permitted by medical officials, a two-week formal training camp.
“I get what we’re dealing with right now, a lot of hypotheticals, but I don’t know,” Paul said when asked how long players would need to get back in basketball shape. “This is the thing with having 450 players in the league and being in a situation like this, where some guys have access to weight rooms, some guys don’t. Some guys have access to facilities where they can train or do this or can run. That’s why, whatever happens — and I say this, and I mean this — we always go back to the players.”
Paul was careful not to discuss hypothetical situations at length, such as what a return might look like in a possible quarantine “bubble” or if he’d be OK with going straight to the playoffs, with no more regular-season games.
“We just want to play,” Paul said. “We’re trying to figure out what that looks like. Right now, I’m just focused on playing, playing in some form or fashion.
“This is a situation where no one knows. The virus is actually in complete control. I seriously tried to answer things the best I could, but there are things where it’s not like I’ve got the answers and I’m just not telling you.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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