Mike D’Antoni Rumors

Coaching for a team with one of the most well-defined philosophies in the league, if not in all of professional sports, Brase has been beholden to D’Antoni’s uptempo style and Morey’s double-down on data. But Brase has been adding some arrows to his quill. Even if he insists doesn’t want them. “I love what coach does here, so that’s my base,” Brase said. “But when you think about where the game takes you? When I first got to the Rockets as intern, I thought it was crazy, but I attributed it to the NBA. Then you find out we are the extreme outlier. “But it makes sense to us. This is our pulse, our heartbeat.”
What does it mean to you to coach in New York? Mike Woodson: “It means everything to me. Think about it: I was a young kid who had a big-time college career, and the organization thought enough of me to draft me with their No. 1 draft pick back in 1980. And then they think enough of you to bring you back as a coach. When I came back, I was an assistant coach and was asked to take over once Mike D’Antoni stepped down. It was like a dream come true for me. I had come full circle.”
NBCA executive director Dave Fogel and president Rick Carlisle have concerns that several assistants and three head coaches — Houston’s Mike D’Antoni (69 years old), New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry (65) and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (71) — could be restricted from leading their teams and some could face considerable challenges in resuming their careers.
Warren LeGarie, the agent for D’Antoni and Gentry, told ESPN on Wednesday: “I hope there is a basketball solution to this issue rather than a legal one.” The 113-page health and safety protocols sent to teams late Tuesday outlined a multi-layered process for the identification and potential “protection” of team employees designated as higher-risk. All team staffers will fill out a questionnaire probing for individual risk factors, including: asthma; heart problems; ongoing cancer treatments; smoking habits; a body mass index above 40 as a measure of obesity; kidney or liver diseases; and other indications of a compromised immune system.
Here, via MacMullan, Drew Shiller of NBC Bay Area, and the Pomp Podcast, are a few of Morey’s more interesting comments on those subjects: On D’Antoni participating in the resumed season: “Mike will be coaching our team. 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.”
Storyline: Season Resuming?
One of the significant factors in establishing risk for health complications due to the coronavirus is advanced age, which leaves three head coaches among those in the league’s 22-team July restart — New Orleans’ Alvin Gentry (65), Houston’s Mike D’Antoni (69) and San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich (71) — perhaps vulnerable to recommendations of those evaluations, sources said.
Limitations to D’Antoni, Gentry and Popovich could leave their three teams at a significant competitive disadvantage in Orlando. Executives with the three franchises — and elders of the National Basketball Coaches Association — have been in consistent contact with the league office on the matter, sources said. D’Antoni and Gentry have been publicly and privately frustrated with the possibility that they could be left off the team’s bench — or even left out of the bubble — and fear a decision to limit or omit them could become death knells to their careers.
How have you been, Coach? How have you been staying busy over the past couple of months? Mike D’Antoni: You go through phases. You know, the first phase is watching film and preparing and seeing what we can do better. And then you get caught up in the world of events and you follow that. In the meantime you’re talking to everybody, doing Zoom as much as you can with employees or the team, staff or friends in Italy and friends in the United States. I’ve never Zoomed so much in my life. And just going through all that and get really busy. I mean, I’m probably busier now without a schedule than you are on a schedule. (But when) they call you, you gotta answer the phone, you’re not doing anything! It’s been good. I’ve got my son here from Austin, he’s working every day from the house. You spend some time that normally you wouldn’t do. You strengthen the relationships you’ve had for a long time. You catch back up, it’s a new lane.
As we get closer and closer to an NBA return, what’s your main goal with this group? Obviously, you guys are trying to win a championship. But what are you looking for after being apart for months? Mike D’Antoni: Well, there are steps. The final goal obviously, and it’s not that hard to say, is that you want to win a title and that’s what we’re going to work towards. And there will be steps that we would plan with the athletic trainers and that side that will get our guys physically and mentally (ready) to perform at the highest. Now that is the first step. And it will be a process and we’ll go through that. How can I make this team play the best that they can play? And put them in positions and get them to the level that they can win a championship.
Mike D’Antoni: We know that to be able to win a championship doesn’t mean we did or didn’t do a job. There’s a lot of coincidence, a lot of luck, different things that go into it. But if everybody does stay in their lane and do their job as best as they can do, we’ll have a legitimate shot at it. That’s the goal and it really hasn’t changed from the first day of practice in September to now. Circumstances change, you adapt. And the athletic trainer will adapt, coaches will adapt, players will adapt and you’ll make the best of that situation. The final goal on the road to get there is your responsibility as a player, coach or management — the fight. And that’s what makes basketball great. Can we harness all of that together, to win the ultimate prize and make it exciting?
Given that when you come back, endurance and fitness will be key, could you see yourself playing more guys? At least as opposed to a seven- or maybe an eight-man rotation. Could you see yourself expanding in that sense? Or is it still too early to tell … Mike D’Antoni: Hell, yeah, If you want to be politically correct. But with Daryl and data, with how we think gives us the best chance to win, it probably comes down to nine guys. Now, who those nine are they could change, and maybe early we experiment, practice and watch. And obviously you’re also biased about their previous play. So I go in with the notion of how I think it’s going to be. I can change my mind. I don’t want to watch practice or games and think “Wait a minute, this guy’s better than this other guy.” But realistically when you start playing James (Harden) and Russell (Westbrook), P.J. (Tucker), Robert (Covington), and Eric (Gordon), those five you’re going to give a bunch of minutes to. You don’t want to wear them out, but at the same time, you don’t want to be fresh for October. They’re going to be tired and it’s going to be a grind.
It’s no secret that there is a strong probability that the Rockets will have a new head coach next season. That’s been widely known since contract extension talks with Mike D’Antoni broke down (twice) in unusually public fashion. There are rumblings around the league that general manager Daryl Morey’s job status could be in jeopardy as well, but owner Tilman Fertitta was adamant he wouldn’t consider firing Morey (who has several years remaining on his contract) after the tweet that caused the Rockets and league’s relationship with China to deteriorate, and Fertitta hasn’t wavered on that stance. You can never be sure, especially if Morey is at the wheel, but the Rockets’ core likely returns intact next season regardless of the results in Orlando.
3 weeks ago via ESPN
Tilman Fertitta: “I think I have one of the NBA’s great coaches in Mike D’Antoni. And I think I have one of the best basketball ops groups, Daryl and his whole team. Personally, I love Mike. But I’m going to leave it up to the general manager. I surely would like to have Mike back. If Daryl wants to have Mike back, I’m sure Mike is going to be back.”
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. “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?”
Storyline: Season Resuming?
A simple blanket group message wouldn’t suffice, not this time. In the four years Mike D’Antoni has served as the head coach, one of his most admirable qualities is the personal relationships he’s been able to establish with members of the roster. D’Antoni reached out to players individually to talk about the murder of Floyd and most importantly, to listen. “I’m just really horrified at the lack of understanding or compassion or empathy that we’ve developed in this country,” D’Antoni said in a phone call this week.
“I believe that because there’s a big platform being a coach,” D’Antoni said. “I [have] a bigger responsibility, but everybody has that responsibility to be able to lead and have empathy and all that. So that should be your natural human instinct to be able to have that. Then when you’re given a platform, which luckily we have as Houston Rockets in the community, then you try to do what you can. Either bring light to a situation or help out either charitably or whatever it takes. You try to make it better because one person, you know, even if it’s one situation, can we make it a little bit better?”
According to LeGarie and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, it’s a non-issue. D’Antoni will still be the coach until this season’s end — whenever that might be. (In a follow-up conversation, Morey further clarified that the deal does not expire until the season comes to a conclusion) “Mike is somebody with a lot of integrity and you make a commitment and you fulfill the commitment — regardless of if it goes past (the length of the deal),” LeGarie told The Athletic. “It’s obviously something we have to work out, but he would never, ever walk away from what he feels is a moral responsibility to see it through with his team and especially with his players. He would never abandon somebody because of a technicality.”
To hear Morey tell it, the contract will not have to be re-worked in any significant way. If at all. “I don’t want to go into any specifics, but I think that there’s not much needed (in terms of his contract),” Morey told The Athletic. “That’s not always the case with everything during this (sort of) time. I know the league lawyers are having to work on a thousand things with different legal aspects, and the Players Union and stuff. But in this case, I think things are pretty straightforward.
As for how D’Antoni and the Rockets got to this point and the outlook beyond this season, that’s a discussion for another day. “Mike refuses to get into that (conversation), because right now the focus is on 1) Restarting the season and 2) Seeing the job through,” LeGarie said. “That’s all he’s focused on. As Mike said earlier, that’s all he wants to do is to make sure that he finishes this season as well as possible, and that’s his only focus. The contract stuff becomes a distraction, and he has no interest in even entertaining anything like that at this moment.”
Storyline: Mike D'Antoni Contract
Rockets sources, however, said that D’Antoni has determined that he would coach if the season resumes, in large part because of confidence in NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league office to create as safe an environment as possible. Sources said D’Antoni, who has been sheltering in place at his Houston home and plans to take precautions such as wearing a mask, has faith that Silver would not allow the league to resume if the safety of players, coaches and staffers would be compromised.

Jeff Van Gundy 'a very possible' replacement for Mike D'Antoni

Sam Amick: But again, who the hell knows on the back end, but Jeff Van Gundy’s name is the one that I heard consistently as a very possible replacement for Mike and, and it’s interesting to see Thibs’ name in there now because you got a guy who was Jeff’s top assistant when Jeff was the Rockets coach and a guy who, you know, in terms of like the optics around Tom, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster the past couple of years, you know, he was labeled, essentially, like, kind of a dinosaur who was too tough on his players and did not assimilate with today’s NBA.
This rumor is part of a storyline: 16 more rumors
Sam Amick: So, you know, Van Gundy and Thibs being from the same tree, whatever happens next, I think you are starting to get a sense of what might be prioritized, obviously defense first, discipline… Now, you know, it’s trying to juxtapose that reconcile that with James Harden in particular, you know, with Thibs or Van Gundy is barking at him on the on the defensive side. I mean, there’s a lot we could get into there. But right now, that’s probably how I see it.
My personal favorite new destination for D’Antoni is one that is not currently open: the New Orleans Pelicans. They need a creative offensive mind to maximize their unusual collection of talent and turn Zion Williamson into an even more devastating force. D’Antoni also has connections with David Griffin from their time in Phoenix and even though former D’Antoni assistant Alvin Gentry currently has the job, it seems plausible that those machinations could happen.
My personal favorite new destination for D’Antoni is one that is not currently open: the New Orleans Pelicans. They need a creative offensive mind to maximize their unusual collection of talent and turn Zion Williamson into an even more devastating force. D’Antoni also has connections with David Griffin from their time in Phoenix and even though former D’Antoni assistant Alvin Gentry currently has the job, it seems plausible that those machinations could happen.