NBA GMs reportedly worried about putting older coaches, staff at risk for coronavirus

While the NBA is contemplating several options to resume its season in some form amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some league and team officials are worried about the health of older staffers and coaches. 

Several general managers, speaking to ESPN anonymously on Saturday, said they felt uneasy about their team’s coaches and other staff members being present for games should the season resume — as they’ll be at a higher risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus.

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One general manager doesn’t “want to put them in harm’s way.”

“I worry about those guys,” one general manager said, via ESPN. “That’s an exposure that I don’t think we can afford.”

There were more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States as of Saturday afternoon, according to The New York Times, and more than 65,800 deaths attributed to the virus. Several NBA players and team staff and officials have tested positive, too, though all have since recovered.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that those who either have underlying medical conditions or are 65 years and older are at a higher risk of infection.

There are several head coaches in the league older than 65. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is 71, Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni is 68 and New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry is 65, to name a few.

“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 general manager said, via ESPN. “Whether it’s a father of the star player or whether it’s the general manager of the team, they can’t go there.”

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is 71 years old and one of several NBA head coaches and front-office staffers who could be at a higher risk for the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Limiting to essential staff

One idea for when the season resumes is to play games with no fans in attendance and only allow teams to have “essential” personnel present. 

While many teams will want all, or nearly all, of their medical and training staffs present, the rest of that list could vary from team to team.

“The one area you don’t want to skimp on is the medical,” a general manager said, via ESPN. “The coaching part of it, you could probably get by with a head coach, that’s it.”

As they go down the line and deem who is and isn’t essential, though, team officials know that “there are going to be some people getting their feelings hurt that they’re not essential.”

“When you start defining essential personnel and you’re creating a list of essential and nonessential, you think the owner’s not going to ask for that list?” one veteran athletic training official told ESPN. “You think the owner’s not going to say, ‘Do we need three video interns? Do we need three front-office interns to go and get coffee?’ ”

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