The NBA coach’s union is expressing concern over the league’s new guidelines heading up to the restart of the season in Orlando, Florida next month. Specifically, they are saying the ability to bar “high risk” staffers from attending the NBA season’s restart in Orlando, Florida, could “severely jeopardize” their future employment opportunities.
That includes three of the leagues more elder coaches — the Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni (69 years old), Pelicans’ Alvin Gentry (65) and Spurs’ Gregg Popovich (71) — according to NBCA executive director Dave Fogel and president/ Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle.
“The health and safety of all NBA coaches is our main concern. However, we are also concerned with a coach’s opportunity to work and to not have their ability to secure future jobs be severely jeopardized. The league assured us that a coach will not be excluded solely because of age.
“We feel the medical review process is designed to flag only those individuals who pose significant threats of substantial harm to themselves that cannot be reduced or eliminated by the NBA’s considerable steps to create a healthy and safe atmosphere in Orlando.
“Adam (Silver) and the NBA have created a situation in Orlando that is likely far safer than in our coaches’ home markets. Absent a significant threat, we believe a coach should be able to understand and assume their individual risks, waive liability, and coach in Orlando.”
The part of the new guidelines that has older coaches and other “high risk” staffers concerned states that they could be subject to more testing and scrutiny, and the league can bar anyone from going to Orlando if they are deemed too high risk, even if they pass all medical evaluations.
A doctor selected by the team must review each questionnaire. The staffer must then provide a letter from a doctor — which could be the team doctor, or the staffer’s personal doctor — clearing that person to attend in Orlando, the protocols state. If the team designates any staffer as “higher-risk,” that staffer must also obtain letters from relevant specialist physicians.
Even if a “higher-risk” staffer satisfies those requirements — and receives approval from his or her team to go to Orlando — the league, per the protocols, can flag that person and have him or her undergo a second review with “one or more physicians appointed by the NBA.” If that doctor or panel determines the staffer “would present a direct threat to his or her health” in Orlando, the league can prohibit that person from going, according to the protocols.
The doctor’s decision “will be final, binding, and unappealable,” the protocols state.
On one hand, it’s hard to imagine either of those three coach’s should feel their jobs are in jeopardy after this season, especially Pop, but their concerns are understandable, especially for other staffers whose positions may not be so stable. It will be interesting to see if a compromise or some kind of contractual agreement can be made to insure that any staffer barred from going to Orlando for health reasons cannot be terminated for any reason related to the virus.