98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
As the NBA takes its first steps towards a potential return, the Boston Celtics are hoping to reopen the team’s practice facility, Brighton’s Auerbach Center, by next week, Danny Ainge confirmed in a conversation with ESPN’s Zach Lowe this week.
“Massachusetts has been one of the slowest in opening things up, so our next phase is we’ll open up our facility,” Ainge said during his appearance on The Lowe Post. “We’re hoping to do it next week.”
Ainge’s plan to get the C’s back to work comes with 10 of the league’s 30 teams returning to team facilities and putting in some ridiculously minimalized-contact, voluntary workouts this week, and with Governor Charlie Baker seemingly taking some steps that are inching Massachusetts towards a slight reopening of the state. (Mayor Marty Walsh, for what it’s worth, said on Friday that Boston will not lift its public health emergency within the next week.)
His plans also line up with the plans Celtics head coach Brad Stevens revealed to NBC Sports Boston earlier this week.
“What we’re targeting is May 18, but it’s certainly subject to Massachusetts public policy,” said Stevens. “Not all of our players are here in Boston or in this area. They’re all over the country. We’ll hopefully be able to open up and let ‘em in one at a time — or four at a time — with one staffer assigned to each.”
And as Stevens alluded to, the league’s rules for these workouts are pretty intense. Teams are not allowed to have head coaches on the premises for these workouts and no more than four players can be on the court at the same time. Teams are clearly taking extra precautions on their own, too, as the Raptors have limited it to one player while some staffers have been seen working with players while wearing a mask and gloves.
This is a wild new world for the NBA (and all of us for that matter), but Ainge noted that his players will take whatever steps necessary to get themselves closer to getting back to work and fighting for an NBA title.
“If I said we’re two or three weeks away from playing, I’m sure there would be some players who would have some trepidation,” Ainge told Lowe. “But I think everybody’s just really anxious to play right now.”
The Celtics entered the pause as the third-best team in the Eastern Conference, at 43-21.