Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni eager to coach if season resumes

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni turns 69 on Friday, but ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported D’Antoni “would have no reservations about being on the sideline if the NBA season resumes.”

Baxter Holmes of ESPN spoke to a pair of NBA general managers who expressed reservations about having older coaches and personnel work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Based on all the information that we have today, probably people over 60 with preexisting conditions can’t go, for sure, no matter what their titles are,” one GM had stated. “Whether it’s a father of the star player or whether it’s the general manager of the team, they can’t go there.” 

According to MacMahon, D’Antoni has faith that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will only sign off on restarting the current season so long as it doesn’t pose a health risk to the people working games.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported April 30 “an overwhelming majority of high-level officials remain encouraged and optimistic that basketball will return this season.”

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Wojnarowski added that the NBA has explored staging games at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, or even team practice facilities.

D’Antoni’s future in Houston has been the subject of speculation in recent days for totally different reasons.

He’s in the final year of his contract, and the New York Post’s Marc Berman reported the Rockets could pursue Tom Thibodeau.

If the 2019-20 season picks back up, it could be D’Antoni’s last hurrah.

At 40-24, the Rockets are tied for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. Houston appeared to have hit a rut midway through the year until the team traded Clint Capela and started playing without a traditional center.

Perhaps the small-ball experiment will help the coach reach the NBA Finals, something that has so far eluded him despite the regular-season success his teams have many times enjoyed.

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