The NBA has been nothing if not thorough in its pursuit of a healthy way to restart the season. It instituted an innovative bubble solution by sequestering most of the league at a single location at Disney World and released a 113-page guidebook to govern health and safety. Some of those rules, such as the banning of doubles ping pong on the Disney campus, have drawn criticism for being a bit extreme. The latest is sure to receive a similar response.
The NBA is installing "timeout chairs" to be used during games, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. The chairs will be mobile, and will be used to allow for huddling on the court during timeouts. Players will not be able to sit on the bench during timeouts, and these mobile chairs will be cleaned after each timeout by team staff.
Huddling, in its usual form, is hardly compatible with social distancing. An entire NBA huddle might fit within the six-foot radius people have been advised to leave between themselves and others since the coronavirus pandemic began. Obviously, maintaining such a distance during a huddle without tipping off the other team about what is being planned would be impossible. This, apparently is one of the compromises that the NBA is making in the interest of limiting contact as much as is possible in the context of a contact sport.
Ultimately, such protocols are all the league can do in light of the pandemic, especially as positive tests continue to rise in Florida. There is nothing the NBA can do to make playing professional basketball entirely safe. If the league is to operate in any way, it must do so with precautions that may seem extreme and perhaps even hypocritical in light of the contact players have on the floor. Within reason, anything that can be done to limit possible virus exposure should be done.