Video surfaced on Twitter last week of three Charlotte Hornets playing 5-on-5 in a non-Hornets gym.
Why they'd want to do that is understandable, considering they were told to stay home for nearly three months, and now can only shoot individually or lift weights when at Spectrum Center. However, Devonte Graham, Miles Bridges and Dwayne Bacon playing at Miami-based Taylor Sports Group's facility goes against what the NBA and the players union have asked of them and players from the other seven teams not in the restart.
The league and union are trying to keep players from contracting COVID-19. But asking 20-something NBA players not to ball, for up to eight months until the next training camp, goes against how these guys are wired.
"We are working to provide an opportunity for the teams who are not in Orlando to engage in group workouts," the NBA said in a prepared statement when contacted by The Observer on Monday. "In the meantime, while we understand players' desire to get together and organize their own workouts, in the interest of health and safety they should not be doing so."
There's no expectation the league would issue fines; this is more about the league and union coaxing players to conform to something that goes against their grain.
Team executives and agents were reluctant to discuss this publicly, but the whole NBA community understands the reality: If players can't get court time in team facilities, they will find it elsewhere: Someone will get a key to a high school or college gym, or travel to a training center.
Players don't want to get sick, but at that age, they will have a greater concern with losing their edge while 22 of the league's 30 teams are south of Orlando, practicing and playing games.
Hornets rookies Cody and Caleb Martin went playground-to-playground at the start of the pandemic, searching for rims that hadn't been disabled, just for a place to shoot. That was in March. By July, it's inevitable players will find a pickup game, authorized or not.
While this is an obvious problem, fixing it is complex. The general managers of the eight teams not in the restart have lobbied hard for some sort of team activity to mitigate the excessively long offseason, with the NBA not planning to start the 2020-21 season until December.
Hornets coach James Borrego spoke passionately about this in a June 8 call with media, saying the eight other teams should get to practice in home markets, which isn't normally allowed in the offseason.