Houston wants Mike D’Antoni coaching the Rockets in Orlando. Period. There is no other option.
Last week on TNT, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver suggested older coaches — D’Antoni is 68 — might have to take extra precautions and even not be able to coach their teams during the NBA’s restart, all “in order to protect them.” Silver was quickly walking that back, with people pointing out if these older coaches were being exposed to the virus, then every player and anyone else at games was also.
Wednesday came the report that coaches and staff going into the Orlando bubble would have to submit medical histories. That could have an impact on coaches and staff over 65.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey has seen all this and was emphatic that D’Antoni would coach the team in Orlando, speaking to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.
“Mike will be coaching our team,” Morey said. “It would be such a huge disadvantage to lose him. We would never stand for that.
“In fairness to the league, they set up a process whereby everyone will have to submit a medical record. I’m sure the doctors told them that some people over a certain age shouldn’t go. But Mike is in great health. He’s in better shape than some 40-year-old coaches we have. Besides, I think his dad lived to be 108 or something.”
Morey is right, taking a head coach off the sidelines at this point would be a massive penalty for that team.
More than that, the league is asking every player, coach, equipment manager, trainer, and any other staff going into the bubble to take a risk (players who don’t want to take on that risk don’t have to). Coaches of any age should be allowed to make that same choice whether to accept that risk.
Maybe there are extra steps for those most at risk if they come down with COVID-19 — that includes players who have diseases that compromise them — but keeping someone out of the bubble or from doing their jobs is not where the league wants to go. And the league office is smart enough to realize this.
Morey, however, has made his point — he wants D’Antoni coaching the Rockets in Orlando.