The fate of the Oklahoma City Thunder reflects the fate of NBA, which reflects the fate of team sports in the United States.
Per a Thunder spokesperson, though the NBA allowed team facilities to be open to players on Friday for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic shut down league competition, Oklahoma City’s practice facility was not open to players on Friday.
That news came as no surprise given the thoughts of Thunder general manager Sam Presti, who referred to the NBA’s allowance that facilities open to players beginning Friday as a “target date.”
“We’re a week or two away from that,” Presti said on April 30.
The Thunder are not alone. Throughout the week, different organizations' plans to reopen facilities to players become known in drips and drabs and uniformity is not at hand.
One piece of news from Friday: At least three teams, ESPN reported — Orlando, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers — are in position to test all players and staff for COVID-19, as a result of those cities having robust enough testing available to also test all health care workers.
Still, none of those teams have reportedly opened their facilities. Only two, Cleveland and Portland, reportedly have.
Per rules handed down by the league, the Cavs’ and Trail Blazers’ facilities, and any others that might have opened Friday, cannot service more than four players at a time and the workouts of those players may not include coaches.
There are numerous organizations in a similar boat as Oklahoma City.
The Lakers, despite the ability to test all players and staff, are nonetheless looking at May 16 as a possible opening date, The Athletic reported.
Houston is targeting May 18, Rockets CEO Tad Brown told the Houston Chronicle.
Dallas may be nowhere near opening, given what Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had to say during a recent podcast appearance.
“Even though we can try and take all different kinds of precautions, it’s just not worth it, particularly when our guys are going outside and shooting on outdoor hoops and working out in various ways,” he said.
The Hawks plan to open their facility “next week,” according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Toronto, Denver, Miami and Sacramento, according to different reports, are looking at opening Monday.
Most teams appear to be exactly where the Thunder are, not broadcasting any type of plan to reopen.
The lack of uniformity should surprise nobody.
Friday, during a conference call between league commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s players, according to both The Athletic’s Shams Charania and ESPN’s Adrain Wojnarowski, one of the points made clear was the following.
“Until coronavirus vaccine, there is risk; (players and the league) will be living with the virus for the foreseeable future,” Charania tweeted.
Also, “On the ever elusive question — What if a player tests positive upon return — Adam Silver told players the NBA would hope for daily testing at that point and no stoppage of play (while a player testing positive would be) isolated in quarantine,” Charania reported.
The new financial world the league finds itself operating within was made clear to the players.
“Silver flatly said that the collective bargaining agreement ‘wasn’t built for an extended pandemic,’ ” Wojnarowski reported.
According to Charania, the players were told revenue generated by fans in seats represents 40 percent of all revenue, while Wojnarowski reported players were told, without a vaccine, the 2020-2021 NBA season might also have to be played in front of no fans.
Both reported a decision to resume the 2019-2020 season could be made as late as June.
In the end, all that really became clear Friday is nothing is clear. Few teams are on the same page and as to the future, without mass testing, at least in the central location (or two) the league might resume the season, or a vaccine, there may be no season to return to.
The Thunder did not open their facility, no, though it's merely a symptom of the uncertainty that plagues the NBA and pretty much every other league, too.
Without mass testing, or a cure, sports remains nowhere.
CLAY HORNING is a columnist for CNHI. Follow him on Twitter at @clayhorning.