After initially saying that older coaches might not be able to return to the bench this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, NBA commissioner Adam Silver reversed course on Thursday night.
Health experts have stated that people age 65 and older are most vulnerable to Covid-19, and the NBA has three head coaches in that category: the San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, 71; the Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni, 69; and the New Orleans Pelicans’ Alvin Gentry, 65.
Silver initially said in an interview with TNT on Thursday, “There are people involved in this league, particularly coaches, who are obviously older people.... We’re going to have to work through protocols, for example, and it may be certain coaches may not be able to be the bench coach.
“They may have to maintain social distancing protocols, and maybe they can be in the front of a room, a locker room... with a whiteboard, but when it comes to actual play, we’re not going to want them that close to players in order to protect them.”
Gentry promptly told ESPN regarding Silver’s comments, “That doesn’t make sense. How can I coach that way?... (It’s not right that older coaches) should be singled out.”
Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, the president of the NBA Coaches Association, then got in touch with Silver.
Carlisle told ESPN, “(Silver) admitted that he jumped the gun with his statement to TNT. The health and safety of our coaches is first and foremost. It’s entirely possible that an NBA coach in his 60s or 70s could be healthier than someone in their 30s or 40s.
“The conversation should never be solely about a person’s age. Adam assured me that we would work through this together to help determine what is both safe and fair for all of our coaches.”
Both D’Antoni and Gentry told ESPN they wouldn’t mind if the league made all coaches wear facemasks on the bench, but they didn’t want the league to force only the oldest coaches to wear masks.
Earlier Thursday, the NBA announced plans to restart the regular season on July 31, with 22 teams playing at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla. The teams will play eight regular-season games ahead of the playoffs, which could end as late as Oct. 12, the scheduled date for Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
The NBA season was suspended March 11 when Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus.
Knicks to begin
Playoffs are not in the picture for the New York Knicks, and the NBA draft is officially more than four months away. That leaves team president Leon Rose to focus his energy on hiring a new head coach.
Rose reportedly plans to interview Mike Woodson and Mark Jackson with former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau thought to be the favourite to be Rose’s first ever coaching hire.
Woodson was the Knicks head coach in 2012-13, guiding the team to 54 wins and a playoff series victory. That win is the lone postseason series the Knicks have won since 2000.
Rose, a former agent who represented Allen Iverson and LeBron James, was named Knicks president on March 2.
The Knicks will learn their position in the 2020 NBA Draft, scheduled for Oct. 15, when the draft lottery takes place on Aug 25. One of eight teams left out of the resumption of play in the NBA next month, the Knicks are looking for a fortuitous bounce of the ping-pong balls after settling for the No 3 overall pick in 2019. Last year, the Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns all entered the lottery with a 14 percent chance to win the top pick. Instead, the New Orleans Pelicans (No 1) and Memphis Grizzlies (No 2) jumped the line and got in position to select Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.
The Knicks selected R J Barrett, but in the weeks to follow, missed out on prized free agents such as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who instead signed with the Brooklyn Nets.
The Knicks went 21-45 in 2019-2020, the third-worst record in the Eastern Conference behind the Atlanta Hawks and Detroit Pistons, who won 20 games apiece.
The Golden State Warriors won a league-worst 15 games.
Depending on the total loss of basketball-related income from the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA could set a miniscule salary cap and take the air out of free agency. The Knicks could still be major players for All-Star-calibre talent facing amnesty from their current teams, such as Pistons forward Blake Griffin and Thunder point guard Chris Paul. Paul is due $41 million in 2020-21 and $44 million the following season. Griffin has $75.5 million remaining on his deal.
The amnesty provision entirely wipes a player’s salary off of the cap, but the player is paid the complete balance of his contract.
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