Voluntary player workouts will be permitted inside the Minnesota Timberwolves' practice facility starting Thursday morning. As with other NBA facilities that are reopening, Mayo Clinic Square will follow strict rules during the coronavirus pandemic.
Wolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said star center Karl-Anthony Towns has been "incredible through this whole process" despite the death of his mother, Jacqueline Cruz-Towns, due to complications from the coronavirus on April 13.
"For any of you guys that know Karl-Anthony Towns, he's a very educated and intelligent individual who understands what's going on. And I give him and his family a lot of credit because as they were going through this tragedy, they showed us the example," Rosas said during Wednesday's Zoom video media availability session.
"They were partnering up with Mayo; they were helping their communities here in Minnesota and in the Northeast to do whatever they can to give back. He's a very proactive individual who's gone through a lot, has shown an incredible amount of character and toughness going through the loss of his mother."
The Timberwolves plan to have a handful of players who are eligible to take part in Thursday's workouts. All precautions are being taken for players and staff to remain as healthy as possible, including a 45-minute workout limit, one coach and one player on the floor at a time with a 12-foot social distance, and masks being worn at all times, except for when players are on the floor.
Towns was close with his mother. The family, which is based in New Jersey, released a statement after her death that they were "devastated by their tremendous loss."
Dr. Robby Sikka, the Wolves' vice president of basketball performance and technology, said Tuesday that the team and the Mayo Clinic are spearheading a leaguewide study that aims to establish what percentage of NBA players, coaches, executives and staff have developed antibodies to the coronavirus.
"Our guys are educated; they understand what we're going through," Rosas said. "They understand the risks and they understand all the situations that we're living through right now, and they're making educated decisions. We're confident in our players are in a good place and they want to be back. They want to be in an environment that they're familiar with but they understand that it's a first step and it's a small step, and for some of them it's just the opportunity to mentally get in a place where it's a safe haven for them, and I know that's the case for Karl."
Rosas added: "It's little steps moving forward, but he's been incredible through this whole process, he knows this is another step moving forward, but like anything, for all of us, in all walks of life, we've got a long way to go, and this is just a new step moving forward for us."