Ric Bucher cites Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni as cause for concern in bubble

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

NBA insider Ric Bucher believes Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni poses a potential concern for the NBA’s agreed-upon bubble idea.

The NBA has had quite a complicated path leading up to the announcement of the league’s resumption, to say the least. There’s been an unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which is re-surging in Houston for a second phase. There have also been a myriad of social injustices that have sparked protests nationwide, of which Houston Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook also took part in.

This has led to players being forced to make a tough decision on what’s best for them and their families, and it seems like everyday we’re finding out about a new player who has opted out of joining their team in the league’s bubble, which will be held in Orlando. But another angle that’s been equally as problematic is in regards to the league’s older coaches, such as Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.

D’Antoni is the second-oldest head coach in the league, behind only San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who is 71-years-old. The age group that has been especially hindered by the novel coronavirus is those over the age of 60, which has prompted questions regarding whether coaches within that age group will be able to be on the sidelines with their respective teams in Orlando.

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Bucher explains concern Rockets’ D’Antoni presents in bubble

Longtime NBA insider Ric Bucher shared his concerns about this specific issue on FS1’s Speak for Yourself.

“Mike D’Antoni is 69 years old. Alvin Gentry is 65. Pat Riley is 75. Are you gonna tell him he’s gonna stay home? There’s plenty of personnel that are instrumental to this that could be affected and they will not be asymptomatic. And the big concern is that you lose someone or something that now creates a question of the validity of the champion that you create, and that’s the concern that I would have.”

Interestingly enough, D’Antoni and New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry are represented by the same agent, which is Warren LeGarie. The age concern is especially a problem for MDA because he’s in a contract year, so he stands to gain from being with the team on the sidelines and helping the Rockets advance as far as possible.

There’s even been speculation that there could be legal ramifications from D’Antoni’s camp as a result of this issue, which underlines the seriousness of the issue. Bucher makes a good point regarding how the absence of a key ingredient, such as D’Antoni, could lead to the dreaded asterisk that we’ve been hearing about ad nauseum.

This is the last thing the league wants to have to deal with, as there is already going to be the challenge of keeping everyone healthy in Orlando, which is a site that’s seen positive coronavirus cases surge of late, much like Houston. But commissioner Adam Silver will also have to find a way to eliminate this specific concern.

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For what it’s worth, D’Antoni has already stated that he’s willing to assume the risks associated with his return and he’s also already been cleared by a Houston doctor, which makes matters much easier.