#Older NBA coaches irked at possible new bench rule

Older NBA coaches irked at possible new bench rule

It’s now for real. And already a touch of Covid-19 controversy.

The NBA Board of Governors voted 29-1 Thursday to bring back their season, with training camp beginning June 30 and the season reopener July 31 with a 22-team format in Orlando, Fla., the league announced.

However, on TNT Thursday night, commissioner Adam Silver touched a nerve when he indicated there may be rules in place to prevent elderly coaches from being on the bench in Disney World.

There are three head coaches over the age of 65 — Houston’s Mike D’Antoni, 69, New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry, 65, and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, 72. Two other head coaches are 60 and over — Rick Carlisle, 60, and Terry Stotts, 62. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the risk at the highest for people 65 and over.

Because of that Silver said “some older coaches may not be able to be the bench coach in order to protect them.”

D’Antoni has said he’ll definitely be in Orlando coaching and sounded annoyed.

Adam Silver and Mike D'Antoni
Adam Silver and Mike D’AntoniEPA; Getty Images

“I am sure they want to keep everyone safe, but to start singling people out with more risk, well, I would hope they wouldn’t want to get into that,” D’Antoni told ESPN.

Gentry told ESPN, “That doesn’t make sense. How can I coach that way?”

Silver also confirmed the league would not shut down “if a single player tested positive,” adding everyone will “maintain certain social distance protocols.’’

“The players will live and remain there during the competition,’’ Silver said.

In a statement earlier in the day, Silver said, “While the COVID-19 pandemic presents formidable challenges, we are hopeful of finishing the season in a safe and responsible manner based on strict protocols now being finalized with public health officials and medical experts.”

The players’ association is expected to rubber-stamp the decision Friday, but work still needs to be done on sorting out testing and protocols.

“‘I’m ready to go,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told The Post. “We have more work to do, because safety will always be our primary focus, but it’s going to be fun to have the guys back on the court.”

The Nets and the other 21 clubs will begin a weeklong training camp June 30 then continue it in Orlando after July 7.

The additional six teams beyond the playoff qualifiers based on the March 11 standings are the Trail Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, Suns and Wizards. That’s five teams from the West and one from the East — based on the formula of teams having to be within six games of a playoff spot. It also worked out those teams have the league’s 22 best records.

The Blazers, ninth in the West, were the lone dissenting vote — they pushed for just 20 teams, according to a source.

After eight regular-season games called “seeding games,’’ there will be a play-in event between the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds in each conference — but only if the ninth seed is within four games of the playoff spot.

The NBA Finals could conclude as late as Oct. 12, with training camp for next season not commencing until Nov. 10, according to the league. The season opener for 2020-21 would “likely’’ be Dec. 1, the NBA said.

The league’s statement read: “The NBA and the NBPA are working with infectious disease specialists, public health experts and government officials to establish a rigorous program to prevent and mitigate the risk related to COVID-19, including a regular testing protocol and stringent safety practices.”

As previously reported, the Knicks won’t be part of the Disney World fun and can embark on a coaching search, with Tom Thibodeau penciled in as the favorite. The Knicks had always been ambivalent about a restart with their final record 21-45. That’s seven straight seasons out of the playoffs.

The Nets, seventh in the East, will partake in the eight-game regular season that will be followed by a potential play-in series then the playoffs.

One report stated the 2021 Finals would be in July, so as to ensure NBA players would be available for the postponed Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to begin late that month.


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