Daryl Morey: Mike D'Antoni Will Coach Rockets in Orlando Despite COVID-19 Risk

Michael Shapiro

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said on Thursday head coach Mike D'Antoni will be coaching the team in Orlando for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver previously noted the league's concern for older coaches in the quarantined playoffs. Silver suggested the possibility of banning coaches over 65 from the court, though he's walked back those comments in recent days.

Morey dismissed D'Antoni's potential ban on Thursday. 

"[D'Antoni] will be coaching our team," Morey told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "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."

D'Antoni discussed his wish to coach in Orlando on Tuesday, though he did acknowledge the league's attempt to make the quarantined playoffs as safe as possible.

"The overriding thing is, one, how can we get the NBA back safely for everybody and to work through the issues? Obviously it's been made an issue and we'll work through it," D'Antoni told the Houston Chronicle's Brian T. Smith. "With all my heart, I want to be on the sideline with the team. But also with all my heart, I want the NBA to function and do well." 

D'Antoni and team personnel throughout the NBA will submit medical data to the league office to be reviewed by a panel of physicians, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The tests will attempt to assess the risk of individuals contracting COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill. 

D'Antoni, 69, is the NBA's second oldest coach behind Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.  Houston has reached the playoffs in each of the last four years under D'Antoni, currently sitting No. 6 in the Western Conference at 40–24.

The Rockets enter the 2020 playoffs seeking their first Finals appearance since 1995. 

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