Sources: Lakers in touch with city about workouts

  • Lakers and NBA reporter for ESPN.
  • Covered the Lakers and NBA for ESPNLosAngeles.com from 2009-14, the Cavaliers from 2014-18 for ESPN.com and the NBA for NBA.com from 2005-09.

The Lakers have been in contact with the Los Angeles mayor’s office to discuss the possibility of opening their practice facility for players before the current shelter-at-home order for Los Angeles residents expires on May 15, sources close to the matter told ESPN.

The NBA announced Monday it would allow players to return to team facilities for voluntary workouts starting May 8. The Lakers, sources said, organized a conference call Monday with their players to detail what the planned safety measures will be when the time comes for their doors to open again — be it May 15 or sooner.

Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager Rob Pelinka and coach Frank Vogel conducted the call, providing a basic outline of the protocol players will have to follow when the team gets the greenlight to host workouts at their UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California again.

The Lakers have not made recommendations to any of the handful of players that are out of town on when they should return to L.A., sources said.

When the workouts begin they will be completely voluntary, however one source present for the conference call said players sounded “eager” to make the first step back since the NBA went on hiatus on March 11 and two Lakers players tested positive for COVID-19 shortly thereafter.

Some of the precautionary measures the Lakers have planned include players having their temperature taken while they are still in their car when they arrive at the facility and answering questions to a designated medical professional before being granted access to the building.

The Lakers plan currently does not call for further testing for the coronavirus arranged by the team for their players, sources told ESPN.

On a conference call with reporters on April 17, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said said health care workers on the front lines have to be “taken care of before we begin talking about NBA players or sports” implementing large-scale testing

Anyone the Lakers players will encounter at the practice facility will be required to wear a mask and gloves and even the designated rebounder for each player will be wearing gloves and sterilized sneakers, sources said.

The approach, sources said, is to err on the side of caution even if it might feel like the rigid circumstances are a bit overboard.

The team will provide players with personal protective equipment (PPE), however should he leave his mask at home, one will be provided upon arrival to the parking lot.

Hand washing stations will be put into place. The weight room will be rearranged to allow for more space between equipment. Food service in the players’ lounge will be revamped to provide meals in individual containers rather than through a buffet presentation.

A priority in the planning for the Lakers will be the implementation of a strict schedule for the players to follow when their slotted workout time comes in order to prevent overcrowding.

Players will be scheduled in groups of up to four — each getting their own half court — for a 90-minute workout period, with ample time allowed in between sessions for cleaning and sterilization before the next group arrives.

The Lakers solicited player feedback to fill out the schedule, sources said, in order to determine how many days a week the players would prefer access to the court.

The workouts will be aimed at individualized skill work and conditioning, with no contact involved.

Lisa Estrada, the Lakers’ vice president of facility operations, will assume the role of facility hygiene officer — a required position the league is asking all 30 of its teams to assign to a senior executive — and be tasked with managing cleaning crews to scrub the workout areas before and after players put in their time.

The Lakers’ plan for sterilization procedures and best safety practices was the result of a group effort from several of top team executives the last few weeks, involving information sharing with other teams, consulting with doctors through their sponsor relationship with UCLA Health and even monitoring baseball being played in South Korea, sources said.

The Lakers are considering conducting a dry run of every step a player would go through when he reports to the facility and undergoes a workout and recording it to provide video instructions that can be distributed to the team, sources said.

Starting individual workouts is only the first step, of course. Outside of the obvious health concerns stemming from the coronavirus, there is also the major challenge of determining the rate at which players should ramp up activity with no target date known when games could possibly be back on to finish out the 2019-20 campaign.

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