As the NBA seeks to salvage what’s left of its season during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, teams throughout the league have been forced to make difficult decisions in order to cut costs and stay afloat. Employees have been laid off and both league execs and players have forfeited big chunks of their exorbitant salaries in hopes that the NBA can survive such a catastrophic economic collapse.
But with the coronavirus establishing a new normal, ESPN reports that teams could be taking the heath and age of their coaching staff and personnel into far more serious consideration moving forward, potentially leading to an unprecedented youth movement.
In speaking to a number of general managers under the condition of anonymity, ESPN reports that each expressed their reluctance and unease about the risk of exposure to COVID-19 among their staff.
One NBA general manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity, pointed to the age of the team’s head coach and others on the staff and said he would feel uneasy about those coaches being present for games, given the factors that place some people at a higher risk for serious issues because of the virus.
“I don’t want to put them in harm’s way,” the general manager said.
Underlying health conditions become more commonplace as we grow older, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifying 65 as the magic number in which adults are at higher risk of serious illness or even death from COVID-19, concern for the safety and well-being of staff is a primary concern—especially with head coaches throughout the league only getting older.
“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,” the second general manager 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.”
And it’s not just coaches, it’s the rest of their staff that GMs are afraid for.
“I worry about those guys,” the general manager said. “That’s an exposure that I don’t think we can afford.”
While an injection of youth in the league sounds attractive in theory, plenty of young coaches have struggled to overcome their notable lack of experience. For every Ty Lue, there are handfuls of Earl Watsons or Jason Kidds who stunk up the league with their questionable rotations and inability to manage team chemistry. But until a coronavirus vaccine is mass-produced, it’s not out of the question to expect some notable turnover throughout the league in the coming months.