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Rockets in mid-flight when they learned NBA suspended season

8炫彩彩票开户LOS ANGELES —The Rockets’ departure from Houston on Wednesday had been pushed back, the uncertainty that would only change and escalate forcing the delay while waiting to learn if there was a game to be played at all.

The next hours would go from strange to stranger, with the NBA season suspended while Rockets players and staff were in the air — on a caravan of charter jets because of an unrelated issue — and the days to come even more unpredictable than the day that ended in the middle of the night back in Houston.

8炫彩彩票开户The Rockets’ day had begun with a meeting with team president Tad Brown to discuss the potential league reaction to the coronavirus issues. After practice at Toyota Center, the NBA board of governors had their conference call to discuss options with the Rockets favoring a pause in the schedule rather than to play with no fans in the buildings, as owner Tilman Fertitta had advocated in a CNBC interview last week.

8炫彩彩票开户When it appeared that the game against the Lakers scheduled for Thursday would be played but with no fans in the stands, the Rockets’ scheduled 1:30 p.m. flight was pushed back to 3:30 to wait for an NBA decision. But because of an issue with the charter company unrelated to coronavirus, the usual charter jet was unavailable and the traveling party was sent to four smaller charters.

8炫彩彩票开户The team was still in the air when the NBA announced its decision to suspend the season, with many watching the broadcast of the news from Oklahoma City where Jazz player Rudy Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19.

8炫彩彩票开户The first two flights made it to Los Angeles. The two other flights that had left later and had not gotten as far were able to turn around and land back in Houston after staffers told pilots the news and pilots made the communications needed to turn back.

8炫彩彩票开户One of the charters that reached LA, returned to Houston, landing at about 3 a.m. Arrangements were made to allow others to return home Thursday morning. Coach Mike D’Antoni headed to Toyota Center at about 10 a.m. to begin gathering information about how to proceed.

“I have nothing else to do,” D’Antoni said. “I have to figure out do we need to practice tomorrow, the next day. And it’ll change.”

The initial idea was for the Rockets to hold individual workouts and schedule occasional team practices. The NBA wanted players to return to home cities, according to a person familiar with initial instructions, and that more details would be sent to teams, likely on Friday, after Thursday’s conference call meeting with the board of governors.

“I imagine we’ll start to practice a little bit,” D’Antoni said. “But you don’t know how long it (the pause in the season) will run. You don’t know what’s going to happen. This is uncharted territory. After a couple days of individual stuff, we’ll do team work.”

8炫彩彩票开户Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had said in an ESPN interview that the NBA had decided that practices would continue. D’Antoni said that if teams practice it would not take long to be ready to re-start a season or even move to the start of the post-season.

8炫彩彩票开户“It would be like preseason, if we practice all along, we should be ready to go,” D’Antoni said. “We would plan for that scenario. The lockout, nobody could even talk to the players, no practices, no individual workouts. We’ll be together and we’ll do things team related and be ready to go.”

If the NBA chooses to move directly to the postseason, using the current standings, D’Antoni said, “I wish it would have been (the standings from) a week ago.

“If they do, then, that’s what we’ll do,” he said. “Whatever the NBA does, they are going to do what’s best for the fans and players. I’m totally on board with that. They have all the information. It’s on us to make the best of any situation.

8炫彩彩票开户“Whatever the NBA thinks is best for the league, for the fans and people and to keep safety, that’s what you do. You do what health officials think is the best way to go. They’re looking at all the angles and best information.”

He said he had not heard about great concern among players about contracting the virus from those that have been in contact with Jazz players that have tested positive.

8炫彩彩票开户D’Antoni, however, has spoken to many friends in Italy that have quarantined. A former player and coach in Milan, D’Antoni said those that he knows there have not tested positive.

8炫彩彩票开户“I called to see if they’re all right, first, and then to see what their daily life’s all about,” D’Antoni said. “It’s crazy. They’ve been self-quarantined for about 10 days and still have two or three more weeks to go at least. They’re on high alert.”

By the time the Rockets returned to Houston and an NBA that had changed while they were at 35,000 feet “high alert” had become the new routine as they were back to waiting for what to do next.

8炫彩彩票开户jonathan.feigen@chron.com

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8炫彩彩票开户Jonathan Feigen has been the Rockets beat writer since 1998 and a basketball nut since before Willis Reed limped out for Game 7. He became a sports writer because the reporter that was supposed to cover the University of Delaware basketball team decided to instead play one more season of college lacrosse and has never looked back.

Feigen, who has won APSE, APME and United States Basketball Writers Association awards from El Campo to Houston, came to Texas in 1981 to cover the Rice Birds, was Sports Editor in Garland before moving to Dallas to cover everything from the final hurrah of the Southwest Conference to SMU after the death penalty.

After joining the Houston Chronicle in 1990, Feigen has covered the demise of the SWC, the rise of the Big 12 and the Rockets at their championship best.

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