Can you imagine the San Antonio Spurs showing up in Orlando for the NBA’s return-to-play and Gregg Popovich not coaching them? Or what about Mike D’Antoni not heading up the Houston Rockets?
Well, those two coaches, along with New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry, are at risk of being barred from the NBA’s “bubble” because of their age, which lands them in a high-risk category for contracting COVID-19.
The National Basketball Coaches Association has spoken out about the possibility of the coaches being barred and so has an agent who represents two of those coaches.
"The health and safety of all NBA coaches is our main concern," the NBCA told ESPN in a statement. "However, we are also concerned with a coach's opportunity to work and to not have their ability to secure future jobs be severely jeopardized. The league assured us that a coach will not be excluded solely because of age.
"We feel the medical review process is designed to flag only those individuals who pose significant threats of substantial harm to themselves that cannot be reduced or eliminated by the NBA's considerable steps to create a healthy and safe atmosphere in Orlando.
"Adam (Silver) and the NBA have created a situation in Orlando that is likely far safer than in our coaches' home markets. Absent a significant threat, we believe a coach should be able to understand and assume their individual risks, waive liability, and coach in Orlando."
Popovich is 71, D’Antoni 69 and Gentry 65.
Warren LeGarie is the agent for D’Antoni and Gentry and his statement about the situation probably qualifies as a threat to file legal action against the league:
"I hope there is a basketball solution to this issue rather than a legal one."
I would assume that the deciding factor in allowing the coaches to be able to work in Orlando will be the opinions of medical professionals. If a doctor clears a coach and he signs a waiver, it would be assumed the coach could participate.
It's hard for me to imagine any of these coaches being kept from their duties, unless a severe health condition is found during an examination.
If that coach couldn’t? Having someone else run their teams during a playoff series would certainly put a unique, very large, asterisk on whatever happens in Orlando.