As the NBA will look to re-start its season this summer, the Minnesota Timberwolves are hoping to play a key role in having the season return. The Timberwolves and the Mayo Clinic are teaming up for a league-wide study to determine if antibodies are present in NBA players.
The study will consist of all 30 teams in the league and see how many players have the antibodies and what it could mean in terms of immunity and when the league can safely return to the court.
"We are learning about this disease," Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Performance and Technology Dr. Robby Sikka told ESPN.com. "We have learned a lot in two months. So if we can take the next two months, learn on the fly, mitigate risk, then we can move pretty quickly to do the right things to have safe play."
This study also comes as several teams have reopened their practice facilities in preparation for the season to resume after it was suspended in March. The Timberwolves are the latest team to follow that trend, announcing they will open their facilities for voluntary workouts on Thursday.
Although facilities will be open, the Timberwolves will also adhere to social distancing guidelines including one coach and one player on the floor at a time, the continued closure of locker rooms and offices, and symptom and temperature checks before players enter the building.
For a franchise that has experienced its own COVID-19 pain with the death of Karl-Anthony Towns' mother, Jacqueline, the Timberwolves have their own interest and hope to find a solution.
"We took a cue from KAT and his family," Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas said. "We took that cue and looked for ways to be good teammates to the NBA and the 29 other teams by connecting with Mayo Clinic to try to find strategies to fight the virus."
The presence of antibodies in a person's blood can indicate past infection of the virus, though it remains unclear if antibodies provide immunity, and if they do, for how long.