Sportress of Blogitude

Mike D’Antoni downplays lame-duck status: ‘It’s a non-issue’

Mike D’Antoni will serve as head coach of the Houston Rockets during the 2019-20 NBA season with the dreaded lame-duck status hanging over him.

Set to enter his fourth season running the Rockets in the final year of his contract, D’Antoni insists he’s paying no mind to his uncertain future in Houston beyond the upcoming campaign.

“It’s not going to change the way I coach or how I feel trying to compete,” D’Antoni told Mark Medina of USA TODAY Sports. “So then we’ll see next summer with what happens.

“I got a great group of guys that I don’t think care. They won’t be affected by it,” D’Antoni said. “I won’t be affected by it. So it’s a non-issue.”

D’Antoni has previously articulated he has no issues with coaching the Rockets this season without the security of a new contract, so his recent comments echo his earlier statements on the matter. 

That said, the pressure undoubtedly is on D’Antoni in 2019-20. The Rockets have been in win-now mode for years now, and even more urgency is assured given the offseason trade that jettisoned Chris Paul and delivered the younger and more dynamic Russell Westbrook to serve as James Harden’s backcourt partner.

Regarding D’Antoni’s approach to the season, constantly fretting about one’s job security arguably is the best way to ensure one’s unwanted fate. Not only is it likely to lead to questionable decision-making, it increases the prospects of constant tinkering and second-guessing one’s actions.

The last thing D’Antoni should do is worry about what lies ahead for him and the Rockets after this season. If the team does what it is supposed to do — win — any issue related to his current lame-duck status will resolve itself.