Rockets Rumors: Mike D'Antoni 'Eager' to Coach If NBA Season Resumes

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2020

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MARCH 02: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)  Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets in action against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 02, 2020 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Rockets 125-123. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni turns 69 on Friday, but ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported D'Antoni "would have no reservations about being on the sideline if the NBA season resumes."

Baxter Holmes of ESPN spoke to a pair of NBA general managers who expressed reservations about having older coaches and personnel work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Based on all the information that we have today, probably people over 60 with preexisting conditions can't go, for sure, no matter what their titles are," one GM had said. "Whether it's a father of the star player or whether it's the general manager of the team, they can't go there." 

According to MacMahon, D'Antoni has faith that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will only sign off on restarting the current season so long as it doesn't pose a health risk to the people working games.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported April 30 "an overwhelming majority of high-level officials remain encouraged and optimistic that basketball will return this season."

Wojnarowski added that the NBA has explored staging games at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, or even team practice facilities.

D'Antoni's future in Houston has been the subject of speculation in recent days for entirely different reasons. He's in the final year of his contract, and the New York Post's Marc Berman reported the Rockets could pursue Tom Thibodeau.

If the 2019-20 season picks back up, it could be D'Antoni's last hurrah.

At 40-24, the Rockets are tied for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. Houston appeared to have hit a rut midway through the year until the team traded Clint Capela and started playing without a traditional center.

Perhaps the small-ball experiment will help the coach reach the NBA Finals, something that has so far eluded him despite the regular-season success his teams have frequently enjoyed.