Report: NBA Instituting 'Timeout Chairs' to Maintain Social Distancing in Games

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJuly 22, 2020

A basketball court is shown at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Kissimmee, Fla., Tuesday, July 21, 2020. The NBA's marketing motto for the restart of the season at Walt Disney World is “Whole New Game,” and in many respects, that’s very true. (AP Photo/Tim Reynolds)
Tim Reynolds/Associated Press

The NBA will institute "timeout chairs" as part of its effort to maintain social distancing whenever possible amid the league's restart, which is taking place after a four-month hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic provided the details Tuesday:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: The NBA has informed teams that they are installing “Timeout Chairs” during games: - Movable chairs to court so players and coaches can huddle, but players must stand/sit around chairs apart from bench - Chairs cleaned by team staff at end of each timeout

Twenty-two of the league's 30 teams are in Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida, for the restart, which will feature three scrimmage games per team before the regular season resumes on July 30.

The scrimmage matchups will begin Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET when the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Clippers open the slate, so we'll see the timeout chairs in action with the game being televised on NBATV.

Mike Singer of the Denver Post provided more details on the timeout chair setup as well as procedures for roster management and seating arrangements for coaches and players during scrimmages and games.

Mike Singer @msinger

- Unassigned seats will be for temporary use along baseline (player-to-player communication, trainer-to-player) - 2 additional seats in lower bowl (for attending executive) - Every player will have individual water/towel stations behind his seat

Mike Singer @msinger

- Each timeout or stoppage, teams will utilize movable timeout chairs so players can huddle away from team benches.

The 22 NBA teams in Florida will each be playing eight regular-season games in addition to three scrimmages apiece. The regular season will end on August 14 and give way to a standard 16-team playoff starting on August 17.

The postseason is scheduled to run as late as October 13, when Game 7 of the NBA Finals (if necessary) would take place.

The NBA is splitting its regular-season games between three facilities on the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney World: The Arena, HP Field House and VISA Athletic Center.

Teams are split up into three resorts at Disney World: Gran Destino Tower at Coronado Springs Resort, Yacht Club and the Grand Floridian.

All players, coaches, executives and staff in the Disney World bubble must follow the rules and protocols outlined in a 113-page document that governs everything from postgame showers (to be done in hotel rooms) to doubles pingpong (outlawed).

Ultimately, the NBA is pulling out all of the stops to try to make this work amid the coronavirus pandemic. More than 3.74 million people have become infected with COVID-19 the United States alone, including 62,788 on Tuesday, per the World Health Organization. Florida has been a hot spot, in particular, adding to the NBA's need to leave no stone unturned in the name of safety.