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What I’m Hearing: Chris Paul says the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is fluid and there’s no clarity on when the NBA can begin playing again.

USA TODAY

OKLAHOMA CITY —  Chris Paul ended his teleconference Wednesday with an apology of sorts. 

“This is a situation where no one knows,” the Thunder point guard told local media. “The virus is actually in complete control. I seriously tried to answer things the best I could, but there are things where, it’s not like I’ve got the answers and I’m just not telling you.”

Paul was the first Thunder player to address a virtual scrum of local media since the NBA season went on hiatus over a month ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s not just the media that Paul, the president of the National Basketball Players Association, doesn’t have answers for.

He’s used to players asking him about the future.

“A lot of times guys will come to me,” Paul said, “and be like, ‘Hey, what’s the league thinking about doing, as far as this?’ or, “Is this going to happen, as far as the playoffs?’ or, ‘Is this thing getting added to the All-Star Game?’ And it’s a matter of getting to the top, to Adam (Silver, NBA commissioner,) to find out.”

That’s not the case now.

Silver told Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson earlier this month, “at least for the month of April, we won’t be in any position to make any decisions,” on when to restart the season. There’s no guarantee that the league’s position will change in May, either. 

As for how the season will resume, assuming it does, Silver has made it clear that “everything is on the table.”

On Wednesday, Paul didn’t speak to his preferences. 

Would he be ready to jump straight into the playoffs? 

“We just want to play,” Paul said. “We’re trying to figure out what that looks like. … Right now I’m just focused on playing. Playing in some form or fashion.”

Would players be fine with being sequestered in one state, city or venue?

“There are so many layers that would have to come into play for that to even happen,” Paul said “… We would have to know exactly what that would look like. … There’s a lot of hypotheticals out there. And that’s great that everyone’s brainstorming, and it’s nice that everybody wants us to play, but I think the safety of the players, their families, fans, everyone, all that” comes first.

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Paul was clear, however, that it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect players to restart games without “at least two to four weeks” of training.

“Some guys have access to weight rooms,” Paul said. “Some guys don’t. Some guys have access to facilities where they can train, or they can do this, or they can run. You just never know. That’s why whatever happens — I say this, and I mean this — we always go back to the players.”

He acknowledged that simply having an outdoor hoop at his home in Los Angeles was an advantage. Players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum revealed this month that they didn’t even have driveway goals. Steph Curry bought and assembled one while sequestered at his house, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Still, playing at home has its limitations.

“The last time I shot inside of a gym was layup lines against the Jazz,” Paul said.

That was on March 11, before Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, and the league postponed the game and the NBA season.

Paul said he doesn’t think the league would do something like giving them a two-week notice before restarting games. But if the NBA did?

“That’s not going to happen,” Paul said. “Whatever the amount of time is, just know that players will have the input because we’re the ones playing. We don’t ever want to put guys in a  situation where their injury risk is higher.”

Exactly how long everyone would need to get back into game shape, however, Paul didn’t have an answer in these unprecedented times.

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