There are three NBA head coaches over the age of 65, the number at which the CDC says people are higher risk for COVID-19. There are a number of assistant coaches around the league older than 65 as well, and if you drop that age to 60 you pick up three more head coaches and more assistants. All that without even talking pre-existing conditions.
As NBA teams start to think about playing out the season in a bubble, they are being asked to shrink down the number of “essential” personnel that will go with players into that bubble. With that, some general managers are questioning putting older coaches through this, reports Baxter Holmes at ESPN.
One NBA general manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity, pointed to the age of the team’s head coach and others on the staff and said he would feel uneasy about those coaches being present for games, given the factors that place some people at a higher risk for serious issues because of the virus.
“I don’t want to put them in harm’s way,” the general manager said.
It’s hard to imagine a team keeping a head coach out of the bubble, but as they trim staff it would be possible for some older assistants to be asked to stay home.
The bigger question becomes, how many people can or will teams bring into the bubble? How many people are “essential?”
Most team’s traveling party for road trips is 40-50 people. I have heard sources say they thought that could be trimmed back to the low 30s, but Holmes said the final numbers could be lower than that, in the 20s.
“The one area you don’t want to skimp on is the medical,” another general manager said. “The coaching part of it, you could probably get by with a head coach, that’s it.”
Just one coach? That seems thin. But these are the discussions going on around the NBA now as teams try to figure out how to make a bubble work and produce a legitimate champion.
As of now there is no timeline for the NBA’s return and a lot of hurdles to clear, starting with testing. However, there is growing optimism that the league can finish out this season then start the next one in December.