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Daryl Morey: Rockets ‘would never stand’ for Mike D’Antoni’s exclusion from restart

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey made it clear the team will not tolerate Mike D’Antoni being excluded from the NBA’s return to action due to how his age puts him in the at-risk group amid the coronavirus pandemic according to CDC guidelines.

“Mike will be coaching our team,” Morey said this week, per Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. “It would be such a huge disadvantage to lose him. We would never stand for that.

“In fairness to the league, they set up a process whereby everyone will have to submit a medical record. I’m sure the doctors told them that some people over a certain age shouldn’t go. But Mike is in great health. He’s in better shape than some 40-year-old coaches we have. Besides, I think his dad lived to be 108 or something.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently expressed concern how older head coaches and other staff being courtside in Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex could put people like D’Antoni, 69, in harm’s way.

“So we are going to have to work through protocols that maybe, for example, certain coaches may not be able to be the bench coach,” Silver said on “Inside the NBA” last Thursday. They may have to retain social distancing protocols.”

As noted by Morey and laid out in a report Wednesday from Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe of ESPN, NBA team personnel are “expected to be asked to submit personal medical histories to a panel of physicians who would review the individual risk of serious illness” when it comes to potential transmission of COVID-19. D’Antoni presumably would be among the personnel whose records would be most scrutinized.

D’Antonio obviously isn’t the only head coach whose potential presence on the bench when the NBA’s return-to-play plan is put into action — tentatively scheduled for July 31 — will be questioned. The San Antonio Spurs’ Gregg Popovich (71) and New Orleans Pelicans’ Alvin Gentry (65) also are among those who fall in the at-risk group when it comes to the possible spread of the coronavirus as 22 teams are set to descend on Orlando.

As far as D’Antoni sees things amid the “new normal,” he’s understandably concerned about the ongoing deliberations but more than anything, he’s eager to return to coaching.

“For the most part, I was doing OK,” D’Antoni said of how he’s been doing amid the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak that halted the NBA season in March, “but these last couple of weeks, I started getting a little more anxious to get back.”