The Los Angeles Clippers are getting together for workouts while the NBA season is suspended — via video conference calls.
Up to 10 players at a time tune in to do workouts led by the team’s performance staff since the league shut down practice facilities because of the coronavirus pandemic.
They’ve also been using workout equipment specially tailored for each player and provided by the team.
“They’re challenging each other, a lot of trash talk,” coach Doc Rivers said Wednesday on a conference call with reporters. “When we come out of this, (there will be) some of the funny stories guys will have about watching each other work out.”
Rivers figures that when the league eventually resumes there will be a high level of competition as a result of the layoff that has allowed players like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to train at a level that wasn’t possible during the offseason, when they were dealing with injuries.
“If we do get back to this, and rhythm and all that, bodies won’t be sore, guys should be healthy,” Rivers said. “If we can get back to this and guys can get their rhythm in time, that’ll be the whole key. It can be the best played playoffs in the history because of that.”
The Clippers had won nine of 10 games to improve to 44-20 when the season was stopped after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus.
“The last 10 games we were turning into the Clippers,” Rivers said. “We were playing seamlessly through Kawhi and PG, it wasn’t forced anymore. I really thought we were about to make a crazy run down the stretch and unfortunately, bam, it stopped.”
Rivers said he’s keeping in touch with his coaching staff and three or four players daily, typically in phone calls or video chats. He has been warning the team that if the season resumes, it won’t be business as usual.
“I’m trying to get my guys to understand two things, that our goals haven’t changed and that we cannot use whatever happens when we come out of this as the reason we don’t win,” he said.
Lawrence Frank, president of basketball operations, is hunkered down in New Jersey with his wife and children. His elderly mother and in-laws are nearby.
“There is a lot of angst, there is anxiety,” he said on the call.
Frank noted that instead of the usual texting, there are more phone calls and video chats “because we are all looking for those connections.”
The pandemic already has Frank adjusting his greeting when he talks to someone.
“I no longer say, ‘How are you doing?’ because it seems like a dumb question,” he said. “I say, ‘Just checking in.’”