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Mavericks owner Cuban will push for fan-less NBA return

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants to see the NBA return to finish a season halted by coronavirus, but only after it’s safe for players, even if that means playing in empty arenas © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File / Rich Fury

NEW YORK, United States, Apr 27 – Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants to see the NBA season resume even without spectators, but only with precautions against the coronavirus are in place to safeguard “players and important personnel”.

Cuban, who spoke Sunday night on CNN, says there is no timetable for the league to return after going on hiatus March 12 when Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.

NBA clubs reportedly will open team facilities for individual workouts starting Friday in states and cities where government leaders have eased stay-at-home rules to allow for such moves. By the start of May, that could be an option for up to 10 NBA franchises, based on announced plans.

Some players from franchises in states where the lockdown remains in force had asked team officials about the possibility of going to Georgia, one of the first states to announce a relaxation, and working out in gyms there, a move team general managers did not favor.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver says it will be May before the league moves forward with any plan regarding a possible restart to the campaign, which ended with about a month remaining in the regular season ahead of the scheduled two-month playoff run.

“The minute it’s safe, we want to try to get back and get the guys practicing and getting ready for games — but we’re not there yet,” Cuban said.

“There will be protocols we can have confidence in. We’re not going to do anything until it’s absolutely, positively safe.”

Among the ideas for finishing the season has been the notion of gathering teams in one city and playing games in an empty arena while sequestering players, perhaps for months, away from families to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

“If we can play with no fans, I’m certainly going to push for it and I think the league will do it. I think we have a moral obligation to do it,” Cuban said.

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“We’re dying for content. We’re dying for teams to root for. We’re dying to get excited about games, just ready to go and cheer as a community.

“If we’re able to pull it off without fans we’re certainly going to do it.”

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