Jackie MacMullan suggests Rockets’ D’Antoni could sue if he loses his job

Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

Although Adam Silver took back his comments on the danger of resuming with older coaches like Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, they could come back to bite him.

The return of the NBA is still going on as scheduled for now, but it hasn’t been without its bumps in the road. From dozens of players expressing a hesitance to return to action to Adam Silver’s rare media misstep about older coaches possibly sitting out, the league still has plenty of things to figure out. The Houston Rockets certainly will need their leader, Mike D’Antoni, when they get back on the court, but the commissioner’s words could potentially harm his future in the league.

On Inside the NBA recently, Silver suggested certain older coaches may not be able to coach from the bench due to the higher risk factors that come with their age. That would apply to coaches such as Gregg Popovich (71), Mike D’Antoni (69) and Alvin Gentry (65).

After immediately getting blowback from coaches, players and the media, Silver admitted he may have jumped the gun when it comes to the NBA’s plans for accommodating coaches in the Orlando bubble and essentially reversed his course.

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Still, ESPN Senior Writer Jackie MacMullan learned from the agent of both D’Antoni and Gentry, Warren LeGarie, that the damage of Silver’s words may have already been done. “Mike is a free agent,” said LeGarie. “This could stigmatize him and others for future coaching opportunities.”

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MacMullan went more in detail when she guested on Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective. “You can’t make people unhear what you’ve already said,” said MacMullan.

“At the end of the season, [D’Antoni] doesn’t have a contract and now you’ve suggested, because of his age, that we have to look at him differently, especially in the face of this pandemic,” she continued.

With everything going on in the country and the coronavirus pandemic continuing to increase in many areas, the altered conditions of running the NBA could very well last for seasons to come.

“I’m telling you right now — if Mike D’Antoni doesn’t re-up with Houston, I think you’re going to see litigation,” concluded MacMullan.

While Windhorst and Tim MacMahon chuckled at the notion in response, they both agreed that LeGarie is “legendary” when it comes to being a pitbull as a representative for his clients.

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It would certainly add to an already long list of issues the NBA needs to address if they end up in a legal battle with D’Antoni’s agent come next season, but if the Houston Rockets can take care of business in this year’s playoffs, the point should be moot anyway.