In a memo directed to teams last week, the NBA floated a similar suggestion, urging teams to consider contingency plans to minimize the number of people congregating in one venue.
The idea was rubbished by LeBron James, who dismissed plans of playing without fans.
“I play for the fans, that’s what it’s all about,” the Los Angeles Lakers star said on Friday.
“If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans there, I ain’t playing.”
Speaking on Monday, Lillard didn’t go as far as James, but echoed the four-time MVP’s thoughts.
“If there’s no fans, they might as well drive up here and let’s play in the practice facility,” the Trail Blazers point guard was quoted as saying by The Oregonian.
“Instead of just going to the arena and playing in an empty arena, let’s just play in our practice uniforms. If you can’t sell tickets, what does that mean? Are you going to have a TV game with nobody there, how does that work?”
In a separate memo issued last week, the NBA instructed players to avoid high-fiving fans and autographing items.
In a document sent to the 30 franchises, the league explained players should opt to fist-bumps fans instead of high-fiving them and should refrain from taking pens from strangers to sign autographs.
Players have also been told to avoid touching balls, jerseys, caps and any item fans may want signed.
Lillard admitted the spread of coronavirus was a worry for NBA players.
“Obviously, it’s concerning,” the five-time All-Star said.
“Especially in the environment that we work in, we’re constantly high-fiving and signing autographs and greeting people. We’re always in the presence of thousands of people. So, you’re concerned.”
On Monday, the NBA was one of the four major U.S. leagues to close locker room access to reporters and clubhouses from Tuesday.
The Associated Press reported the league told its 30 franchises on Monday that the move was not aimed at curtailing access to reporters and insisted interviews will continue as normal outside the locker rooms, providing players and interviewers maintain a distance of a least six feet between them.
“Given the issues that can be associated with close contact in pre- and post-game settings, all team locker rooms and clubhouses will be open only to players and essential employees of teams and team facilities until further notice,” part of the joint statement issued by the four leagues read.
“Media access will be maintained in designated locations outside of the locker room and clubhouse setting.”
As this map provided by Statista shows, over 750 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., with 26 deaths and eight people recovered.
Over 4,000 people have died since the outbreak of coronavirus began in Wuhan, a city located in China’s central Hubei province, late last year. There are over 114,000 cases globally, with 64,000 recovered.