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Hield, Ayton staying active

Bahamians Chavano “Buddy” Hield of the Sacramento Kings and DeAndre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns are shown going after each other in this file photo. The NBA is set to allow teams in states that have relaxed stay-at-home restrictions to use practice facilities.

April 29, 2020

Simba French

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) is set to allow teams in states that have relaxed stay-at-home restrictions to use practice facilities for player training no earlier than Friday, May 8, according to an official release by the NBA on its website. It’s a silver lining for fans hoping to see their favorite teams in action again this season.

For the local flavor, Bahamian professional basketball players Chavano “Buddy” Hield of the Sacramento Kings and DeAndre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns are trying to stay engaged, both working out at home, as there is no telling if or when the season will resume.

The release stated that the league will modify the use of training facilities.

“The NBA informed its teams today (Monday) that, as numerous state and local governments have announced modifications of stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on non-essential business activities beginning this week, the league is planning to modify its guidance regarding the use of team practice facilities and player training,” the release stated.

These changes allow for players to train in safe and controlled environments in states that allow it. In addition, the changes will provide a way for players in other states to identify safe training options.

The following restrictions, according to the release, will be applied under strict guidelines.

“No more than four players would be permitted at a facility at any one time; no head or assistant coaches could participate; group activity remains prohibited, including practices or scrimmages; players remain prohibited from using non-team facilities such as public health clubs, fitness centers or gyms,” the release stated.

The NBA suspended the season on the night of Wednesday, March 11 after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. With that, the league also suspended teams from using training facilities. In addition, the NBA also prohibited players from using public gymnasiums.

For some, this latest development is a sign that the league will resume usual activities; but things can change quickly, as the press release stated. It was also indicated that the league can also push back the May 8 date “if developments warrant it”.

Before the season was suspended, both Bahamians were in the process of helping their teams fight for a playoff spot in the Western Conference of the NBA.

The Kings sit in the 10th spot with a 28-36 win-loss record – three and a half games behind the 32-33 Memphis Grizzlies who occupy the eighth and final spot. Sitting six games behind the Grizzles at 26-29 are the Suns.

Kings’ two-guard, Hield, is the Mountain Dew NBA Three-Point Contest champion from this season. He is averaging 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season. The Grand Bahamian is known for his long-distance bombs. He has connected on 244 three-point shots this season, second in the league and 34 shy of his career-high and franchise record of 278 from a year ago. It was the seventh most-prolific shooting performance from downtown in NBA history. Hield is also the fastest player in league history to reach 800 made three-pointers. He accomplished that in 296 games.

Suns’ center Ayton was suspended for 25 games after opening night for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program. That did not stop him from returning to average a double-double so far this season. He is averaging 19 points and 12 rebounds per game – both career highs. He is also averaging career highs in blocks with 1.7 per contest. Ayton became the fastest Suns player to reach 1,000 rebounds in team history.

The United States of America has the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with over one million persons – more than 750,000 higher than the second-highest country, Spain, according to the latest COVID-19 numbers from Johns Hopkins University up to press time. They have also recorded nearly 50,000 deaths.

There is still no official date as to when the league will resume its 2019-2020 season.

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