Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni would have no reservations about being on the sideline if the NBA season resumes, despite his age increasing the risk of severe illness or death from the coronavirus, sources told ESPN.
D’Antoni, who turns 69 on Friday, is the league’s second-oldest head coach behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who is 71.
Two NBA general managers told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes that they had major concerns about older coaches and staffers being present at games due to the factors that place them at a higher risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that adults over age 65 are at higher risk of severe or fatal complications from the coronavirus.
Rockets sources, however, said that D’Antoni has determined that he would coach if the season resumes, in large part because of confidence in NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league office to create as safe an environment as possible. Sources said D’Antoni, who has been sheltering in place at his Houston home and plans to take precautions such as wearing a mask, has faith that Silver would not allow the league to resume if the safety of players, coaches and staffers would be compromised.
D’Antoni has expressed confidence that the Rockets, who are 40-24 and tied for fifth in the Western Conference standings, can be legitimate contenders for a championship. D’Antoni has a 668-523 career record — including 213-97 in four seasons in Houston — but has never coached a team that advanced to the NBA Finals, having lost in the Western Conference finals with the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns and 2017-18 Rockets.