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Backup point guard Goran Dragic, who was acquired for Aaron Brooks last season, had his option for next season picked up by the Rockets. This was reported on Monday afternoon, but was confirmed this morning by the Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen.
Dragic played in 22 games for Houston after the trade. He averaged 17.2 minutes, 7.7 points and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the field and 51 percent on 54 three-point attempts.
A few other Rockets-related things floating around Tuesday morning: Richard Justice profiles new head coach Kevin McHale, but somehow doesn't say anything particularly interesting about him. We do find out he turned down at least one head coaching job before deciding to take the Rockets and that he's got a bum ankle. Here's the extended version of the interview, thanks to Richie's blog.
Here's a ranking of the Southwest Division for next season (a little premature) that, predictably, has the Rockets picked last. Oh, and they get a shot in about Morey collecting a bunch of assets.
Rahat Huq over at Red94.net has a Q&A with Zach Harper of ESPN.com, who's also a big Timberwolves fan. They discuss all things McHale, but we still don't learn much, other than that Minny fans are still sorta bitter over McHale's time there. So, he coached twice, improving the team both times, but he doesn't deserve credit?
Finally, Red94 also breaks down the two main trades Houston made last season to see what Morey got. When you look at it like this, how can you not be impressed when Morey does his thing. That's a serious haul, even if part of it does contain Hasheem Thabeet's useless husk.
Kevin McHale has rounded out his coaching staff with the Houston Rockets, hiring former Oklahoma and Indiana University coach Kelvin Sampson and a familiar face in Minnesota Timberwolves assistant J.B. Bickerstaff.
Bickerstaff has been an assistant on the T’Wolves staff for the past four seasons, including McHale’s second stint as a head coach in Minnesota. His dad, Bernie Bickerstaff, is a former NBA head coach who’s been an assistant with the Portland Trailblazers. The elder Bickerstaff was also interviewing this week, but with the Timberwolves now that Kurt Rambis has been fired.
Sampson is easily the more controversial coach and takes on the biggest role as McHale’s lead assistant. Sampson had a scandal-filled past at both Oklahoma and Indiana, flaunting NCAA rules about making phone calls to prospective players. He left Indiana shortly after the NCAA wrapped up its investigation into him and sanctioned him accordingly. He’s been in the NBA since and has aspirations to be an NBA head coach some day.
Also important is that Sampson was the first to interview for the Rockets open head coaching position when Rick Adelman left. That interview, which apparently lasted 14 hours, gave him a huge insight into the Rockets organization. He’s coached with the San Antonio Spurs in 2008 and been with the Milwaukee Bucks for the past two seasons.
After the Rockets were not able to pull in their coveted big man at the NBA Draft on Thursday, the wheels in Daryl Morey's head are spinning like mad trying to get this team a player in the middle that can make a difference. That player may end up being... Andris Biedrins?
In seven seasons with the Warriors, Biedrins has averaged 7.7 points, 8 rebounds, and just over a block per game while playing in around 24 minutes per contest. He's very obviously not "the" guy the Rockets covet, but they would have you believe that he's better than what the team has now. Yeah, that's a stretch. Clearly the plan to get a star-level player wouldn't change with the acquisition of Biedrins.
Thabeet appears to be a lost cause unless he flips a switch that suddenly gives him the mental makeup of a guy who cares about his NBA career. His involvement in any deal is only about making the money work, so he's basically a non-factor. Hill has shown flashes of effectiveness and makes for a nice complimentary player. The deal pretty much boils down to Hill vs. Biedrins. Player to player I can't say I think one is tremendously better than the other. Presumably, Biedrins would be a full-time center in Houston, whereas there has been some power forward play sprinkled in with his center work in Golden State.
With the addition of forwards Marcus Morris and Donatas Motiejunas in the draft on Thursday, it makes sense that the Rockets are looking to move one or more of their plethora of frontcourt players.
Post-draft, Morey still has an immense amount of work to do to get this team into the playoffs, but getting to the playoffs clearly is not the goal. Oh, and there's still that little matter of what to do about Yao Ming.
On Thursday, the Houston Rockets sent Brad Miller plus their 23rd and 38th picks in the draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Donatas Motiejunas and Jonny Flynn. On Friday when Flynn was examined by Houston team doctors, the deal hit a bit of a snag.
Flynn, 22, was the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, but he had hip surgery after a torn labrum last July that limited his availability in 2010. It was not made clear whether or not Minnesota was up front with Houston about the current status of Flynn's hip, but to push the deal through, the Timberwolves had to cough up a second round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey said there are no issues and that Flynn is fine. So fine, apparently that the Rockets had to be given another draft pick before they would clear him on his physical.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the injury won't keep Flynn off the court , but raises long-term health concerns with the Rockets.
Several reports surfaced that Flynn was on the trading block as soon as the Rockets acquired him. This will likely make moving Flynn much more difficult. On the flipside, Flynn has hardly had a chance to blossom as an NBA player and if there's roster room (and if there's a season) in the fall, it would be interesting to see if Flynn could reach his full potential in a Rockets uniform.
According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Rockets have picked up Jonny Flynn. They will now...shop Jonny Flynn. The accumulation drive continues unabated as Houston was unable to leverage all of it's assets to move up and get someone they wanted in this year's draft. Instead, they'll use Flynn as more bait:
ESPN.com sources: Houston making newly acquired PG Jonny Flynn available to interested teams. Wolves shopped Flynn liberally before draft
Not much of a surprise. There are other teams in the league that have logjams, but after this year's draft, the Rockets arguably go four deep at three positions and have nobody but (free agent) Chuck Hayes and Hasheem Thabeet at center. Houston will need to solve it's issues via trade rather than accumulating assets sometime, right? Right?
No word on what the Rockets are looking to acquire for Flynn. The only player of any real skill that they were linked to before the draft was Atlanta's Josh Smith.
According to Stein, Houston's non-Donatas Motiejunas motivation to make the Miller-Flynm move was to slash salary.
Per Ken Berger of CBSSports.com, the Rockets have engaged in discussions with the Pistons that would swap the No. 14 and No. 23 overall picks to them for the No. 8 overall pick. That is hardly surprising based on what we knew coming into the day. The real revelation here is that Jonas Valanciunas isn't the only man Houston is interested in moving up for. That second guy, per Berger, may be Texas Longhorn forward Tristan Thompson:
Sources say Houston targeting Tristan Thompson if he's there, also have interest in Bismack Biyombo. Kevin McHale wants a big.
Thompson is a bit undersized for a traditonal big man, but he was a very effective defender and rebounder for Texas last season, and it's surprising that he hadn't really been tied to the Rockets in any real way before today. It makes total sense for Houston to go after him, and projection systems do tend to like him quite a bit.
Will the Rockets be able to swing a deal for him? That much is still up in the air.
Chad Ford and Jonathan Feigen continue to have nearly identical stories on this, so we'll just say that "multiple reports" have the Rockets continuing to talk trade with the owners of the No. 7-10 picks. The San Antonio Spurs are also engaged in this area, offering (possibly) Tony Parker or George Hill to move up. Ford says that the Rockets have gotten the furthest with Detroit:
The Pistons are seriously considering the Rockets' offer -- especially if Kawhi Leonard and Tristan Thompson are off the board. The target at No. 14? Markieff Morris. Morris wowed the Pistons in a big workout Tuesday, and they feel he could still be on the board there.
Thompson is likely to be on the board at No. 8, as it's hard to find a draft that has him going before then, but Leonard could be gone and there has been speculation that he has a promise with Detroit. Feigen doesn't think the trade up will happen, because he doesn't think noted Rockets target Jonas Valanciunas will slide:
None of those possibilities seemed better than the others or very likely. The Rockets' interest seemed to be to get into the mix should Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas slip because of word he might remain overseas for a season or two. But as Wednesday progressed, he seemed more likely to be going to Cleveland with the fourth pick.
Word that Valanciunas could go fourth and Turkish center Enes Kanter might be drafted second or third changed many projections to follow, dropping Kemba Walker several spots and potentially out of the top 10. Jimmer Fredette could also reach the middle of the first round.
The Rockets could still be looking into trading up for an unknown target, but if Valanciunas isn't there, it would seem to quash a lot of the interest Houston has in moving up. Perhaps this is why the talks with the Timberwolves have picked back up.
You know that old adage I just made up now about how you can question whether Daryl Morey's moves work out, but you can never say that he's not aggressive about things? Yeah, well according to ESPN.com's Andy Katz, the Rockets have proposed at least 10 different trades to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the right to move up to their No. 2 overall pick.
• Minnesota has four trade scenarios on its board for the No. 2 pick. As of midday Wednesday, the Timberwolves now are leaning toward Arizona's Derrick Williams over Kentucky's Enes Kanter of Turkey. But the Wolves are actively listening to offers for No. 2. Phoenix and Washington are two teams that aren't involved, but Houston, which owns pick No. 14, has proposed at least 10 different options for Minnesota's No. 2.
It's unclear whether the Rockets would be moving up to No. 2 for Williams specifically, or if they'd instead select Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas, but with those three looking like the guys who will make up four of the top five picks in the NBA Draft, it's a safe bet that Morey is targeting one of them. Valanciunas would be my guess, because he's been linked much more heavily to the Rockets, but Morey has been known to play things close to the vest at times.
Both Jonathan Feigen and Chad Ford have noted that the Rockets are making an attempt to trade into the later part of the top 10 picks in an attempt to acquire Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas. Earlier rumors involved trading for the No. 10 pick with Milwaukee, but Houston is talking trade with the holders of the No. 7-10 picks: Kings, Pistons, Bobcats, and the Bucks.
From Feigen's chat on Chron.com today:
Jonathan Feigen: Absolutely. I was hoping to get into this. There seems to be almost no chance they can move into the top six. Those teams are talking a lot, but mostly with each other or about the kind of stars the Rockets would try to get, rather than get rid of. They Rockets have talked about deals for the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th picks. The chances are about equal, and not great for any one of those deals. It would depend on if the player the other teams wants is not there, or available later, and if the player the Rockets want is there. I think they would probably chase Valuncianus.
Ford's chat on ESPN.com provided much the same information:
Do you think the Rockets will look for Yao's replacement in the draft ?
Chad Ford (1:46 PM)
No replacement for Yao, but it sounds like they'd like a big. They are talking to both Charlotte and Bucks about packaging 14 & 23 to move up to 9 or 10. Valanciunas is the target I think. At 14 they could go with Nikola Vucevic or Markieff Morris.
So there you have it: the target appears to be Valancinunas. The Rockets could do much worse than him considering their needs, and he does appear to be the rare European big who wants to mix it up inside.
Word out of...well, Racine? Isn't that where they filmed That 70's Show? Anyway, word out of there is that the rumored swap where the Rockets send No. 14 and No. 23 to the Bucks for pick No. 10 may not just be a draft picks only affair. According to the Racine Journal Times, the Rockets are interested in picking up Ersan Ilyasova as well.
The teams have tossed around different trade scenarios with Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova being prominently mentioned.
While the Bucks like Ilyasova, they have a glut of power forwards: veteran Drew Gooden, whom the Bucks signed as a free agent last summer; Luc Mbah a Moute, who is the team's best defensive player, and Larry Sanders, who they selected in the first round last summer.
It's hardly a secret the Bucks would be interested in Rockets forward Patrick Patterson, whom the Bucks were hoping to land in last summer's draft.
Jordan Hill? Well, Alex Cohn will be happy with that. I don't see why the Rockets would include those other players solely for Ilyasova, unless they were just trying to grab as many Europeans as possible in an attempt to make my hands hurt from learning to spell new names.
We're about 40 hours out from the start of the actual draft, and this Bucks-Rockets rumor seems to be the one that has the most legs at this point.
Keep in mind that Bulls.com writer Sam Smith is right about these things as often as Chuck Hayes shoots a pretty free throw, but he's reporting that the Jazz are open to moving big man Al Jefferson and the Rockets could be the landing spot. In a deal for Kevin Martin.
The Jazz is rumored to be making Paul Millsap available. But they also are said to be holding open the possibility of moving Al Jefferson in a larger deal if they can get Kanter, a deal that could net them a shooting guard, like Monta Ellis or Kevin Martin with Golden State at No. 11 and Houston No. 14. So then Utah would go big.
Al Jefferson hasn't been in Utah long enough for the stinky flopper juice to be permanently attached to him, but he's never been the plus defender that Houston has needed. To give up on Martin for him? I'd think the return would have to be much bigger than just Jefferson. File this one away under possible, but not likely. At least unless the deal is expanded to give the Rockets more of an actual lift.
In addition to the Josh Smith rumor passed along earlier, another tidbit to be found in Adrian Wojnarowski's always-thorough Draft Notes column is that the Rockets might have a deal on the place that would allow them to jump up to Detroit's pick at No. 8 overall.
Houston continues to offer the 14th and 23rd picks in the draft to move into the top 10, and could have a willing partner with the Detroit Pistons at No. 8. The Pistons have told teams they won't trade down until they see who drops to them on draft night, sources said. In what could be an interesting window into the Pistons' preferences, San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard worked out for Detroit on Monday, and shortly thereafter cancelled his Wednesday workout with the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the 10th pick. Several executives believe Leonard may have left Auburn Hills with a guarantee.
It's unknown who exactly the Rockets would be targeting at 8. Jonas Valanciunas and Donatas Motiejunas are your clubhouse leaders in mentions, but they could also be thinking about players like Jimmer Fredette or Bismack Biyombo. Either way, the rumors promise to keep coming fast and furious as Daryl Morey and the rest of the front office inch closer to the NBA Draft on Thursday.
Smith would reportedly be interested in joining the Houston Rockets. Smith also approves of trades to the Celtics, Nets, and Magic. It has been reported that Smith has not yet requested a trade, but a league source seems to hint at a divorce:
“The relationship has run its course.”
Payroll may be another reason for the possible move; Smith is due almost $26 M over the next two years. Though he may very well be worth the money, fellow-Hawk Joe Johnson is also enjoying the fruits of his max contract. He will average $20 M over the next five years.
Is Josh Smith the final piece to the puzzle? Clearly not. The Rockets don’t really need another PF, but such a move would make the Rockets more exciting. Did I mention that he’s just 25 years old? In a league where stars decide who wins and where, this may be a monumental piece for the Rockets to remain relevant for the next decade.
The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen has his finger on the pulse of the Rockets, and though you can bet on Daryl Morey getting value in the draft no matter what happens, it appears that Houston wants to acquire a signature player on draft day. They may finally have the pieces to do so, says Feigen:
Morey has made his usual calls to move up from the 14th pick in Thursday's draft and has been open about that being his preference since before the lottery. He can sweeten that sort of deal by including the 23rd pick of the first round, a Magic pick acquired from the Suns in the Aaron Brooks trade.
Morey, however, is chasing other moves, even offering four first-round picks over the next two seasons. He already has traded the Rockets' first-round pick next year to the Nets in the deal to acquire Terrence Williams. But in the search for a foundation player, Morey has offered a combination of picks that could include this season's pick, next season's pick acquired from the Knicks in the Tracy McGrady trade and even the portion of the Rockets' pick next year that is not protected and that they would not be compelled to send to the Nets.
"We have a lot of options on the table," Morey said. "We have four No. 1s we could trade over the next two years. That's our goal, to see if we could pull off something like that."
Hard to say who the exact target would be. Given Morey's persistence with Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh over the last year or so, you can bet it starts at the top with names like Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. In the draft itself, I'd put my money on Enes Kanter being Morey's target.
It should be a fascinating and exciting few days for Rockets fans as they see Morey's manipulations finally start to unfold. Check back frequently for more updates.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey is aggressive. Rockets GM Daryl Morey does not have what you'd call "a good foundation," as asides from Kyle Lowry they really don't have any players who excel at both offense and defense. Ergo, Rockets GM Daryl Morey is making everybody available. Or at least that is what ESPN.com's Chad Ford thinks:
Daryl Morey is always trying to make a play. From what I can gather, everyone in Houston is on the table. Everyone. It's a good strategy. I don't think the Rockets are married to moving up. Nor are they married to getting vets. They're just looking for the best possible deal. I wouldn't be shocked to see Kevin Martin or Luis Scola moved. If they keep 14, look for them to try to add a center or point guard. Bismack Biyombo, Nikola Vucevic and Jimmer are options there. If they move up, I agree that Valanciunas could be the guy.
The Valnciunas rumors continue to grow. It should be interesting to see just what Morey is able to pull off with his stable of assets and solid players. The hunt for a star continues.
We've already looked at the merits of Jonathan Givony's latest mock draft for Yahoo!, but there's something else here that might be worth talking about. Givony, like every writer ever, has heard that Houston is interested in making some deals. Try not to be too shocked by that factoid. Unlike most, however, he's willing to give an actual name the Rockets may be targeting: Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas.
Houston is reportedly exploring trade options, possibly in hopes of moving up to select Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas, who will fill a major hole in the middle.
We've already heard that if Valanciunas' buyout doesn't come easy, the Rockets may be his floor at No. 14 overall. It would definitely fill a position of need for the Rockets considering their lack of seven footers, and Valanciunas does actually rebound and bang in the middle unlike the stereotypical European big man, so he could be a nice get for the Rockets in a trade-up. Whether they're willing to pay the price to get there or not is another question, but he'd certainly make sense as a target for Houston.
Per Minneapolis ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson, the Rockets have been one of the most aggressive teams in trying to trade up to the No. 2 overall pick. Wolfson doesn't see an obvious fit with the Rockets, and I don't really either unless both sides think Kevin Martin is the linchpin of a deal. It would be hard to see Houston GM Daryl Morey making that trade unless he were getting more back. The Timberwolves two biggest assets, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, have long been trade targets of the Rockets.
They also could be trying to consummate a three-team deal for the No. 2 overall pick. It's unknown whether Houston would be targeting Arizona forward Derrick Williams or Turkish center Enes Kanter with the pick, but it would likely be one of them considering their team needs and the respective talent that is available in the draft. Houston has six first round picks over the next three years to barter with, and seem to be set up to finally take advantage of their asset accumulation strategy over the past two years.
Bill Simmons, who has started running the entire sports internet through Grantland, is joined by ex-Rocket and current TV analyst Jon Barry in pushing the possibility of the Rockets dredging up what they were trying to do last summer and going for it again: acquiring Chris Bosh. Simmons, who does love the media narrative, thinks that the Heat need a scapegoat for this season:
Chris Bosh: A decent lock to be traded this summer if Miami blows this series. There will have to be a scapegoat. You know, other than Spoelstra.
I'm not an unabashed fan of selling high on Kyle Lowry, because I think his improvement is sustainable, but I guess the trade makes some sense in that you're buying very low on Bosh. Personally, I would only do that trade if Scola and Patterson were joined by much less valuable pieces. Dealing Lowry in a package for anything less than a sure-fire superstar seems short-sighted to me.
Barry appeared on The Mike And Mike Show and said that he's heard the Rockets are still interested in Bosh, adding that he thinks the new CBA will force the Heat to give up one of their three best players.
This appears to be even less than smoke at this point, given the two people who are spreading the idea, but I guess it does make logical sense that the Rockets would check in on Bosh. Whether they'll get laughed off the phone or not is a different story entirely.
Rockets center Yao Ming, speaking to the Peninusla Morning News in China, was a lot more blunt than he had been over the past regarding his future. Thanks to NiuBBall.com for the translations:
Yao stated “It all depends on the ankle. If I can get it healthy, then I’ll retire in two years. Otherwise, it’ll be this summer.”
But, in recent weeks, Yao has been less and less optimistic about a possible return. Answering questions from China Daily while doing charity work in Gansu province last Friday, Yao expressed doubt over his troubled ankle’s ability to heal well enough for him to extend his career.
“My left foot fracture is the result of a previous injury and relapse last December,” said Yao. ”Due to the set back, I am being conservative about it healing. Actually, I do not dare say I am optimistic right now.”
“I am recovering from the injury step by step. Right now the situation is just as it was at the same period last year when I battled against the last injury. Frankly, I can’t be too optimistic. I just remain patient.”
That sounds like a brutally honest take on the whole situation from a man who has been rather forthcoming over his career when it comes to his various foot and ankle maladies. Yao will be a free agent, and it looks like the upcoming NBA Lockout may help the Rockets and Yao out. With free agency delayed for a bit, that will give Yao more time to get in shape and the Rockets more time to see if they think he can hold up as a backup center.
Either way, this isn’t much removed from most of the rhetoric around Yao for the past couple of months. Yao is facing the most critical offseason of his NBA career, and his ankle still isn’t doing him any favors.
In news that would only be shocking in the lamest mystery novel ever, Rockets center Yao Ming, rehabbing in China, continues to not be anywhere close to healthy. Speaking to the China Daily, he told reporters that he needs to be at about 80% to play, and his ankle currently is only at about 30%.
However, the giant stressed his future as a national representative depended on his rehabilitation after undergoing surgery to repair the ankle in January.
“Walking or jogging is OK for me now, but I need to get 80 percent of my strength back to play I have got only about 30 percent at most now. I also need exhibition games to assist my recovery, not only working out alone,” said Yao, who took off his protective boot two months ago.
Yao also iterated the desire to play is still within him, and the idea of his daughter being able to watch him play is a big factor in how he is pushing himself for a comeback.
While it’s definitely heartwarming that he wants his daughter to be able to watch him play, Yao’s condition continues to be an unknown. What he does during the (likely) NBA lockout will probably be the determining factor in whether he plays again next year, but I wouldn’t want to bet against someone with the tenacity and dedication to training that Yao has.
New Rockets head coach Kevin McHale sat down for a few minutes yesterday with Dan Patrick on the aptly-named Dan Patrick Show. While much of the interview focused on the usual talking points (Why Houston? Why now? Why not 20 years ago?), Patrick made it a point to ask McHale about the future of Yao Ming. McHale essentially threw up his hands ala Bud Selig at the 2002 All-Star Game and admitted he had no clue what the Rockets would do about Yao this offseason:
“I don’t know. We would love to see Yao Ming come back and play and stuff like that, but he’s got to get his feet healthy. That’s a tough thing. How many bigs have you seen that have started to have feet problems. I mean how many bigs have you seen that have started having feet problems. It’s just so hard. I don’t think you ever can say never on a situation like that, but boy it’s awful tough. Yao is such a big man, he’s so huge that I just have to believe that’s awful tough on the feet. We’re hoping, but I guess we’re just going to wait and see.”
Golly shucks, Kev, sure hope you figure it out soon! I love the use of the phrase “awful tough,” and look forward to McHale continuing to bring me back to the sixties with every new interview.
That said, what else could he really say? Nobody knows what to think about Yao right now. They likely won’t know until the NBA Lockout is lifted just how much he can help them.
Chuck Person was rather en vogue as a head coaching candidate this offseason, but as positions are filled, he’s apparently changing his focus to assistant coaching jobs.
Person served on the Los Angeles Lakers staff this past season and has previously spent time coaching the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and Sacrament following his NBA career, but his next stop could be as an assistant with the Houston Rockets on new coach Kevin McHale’s staff.
Person interviewed with the Rockets on Monday, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, after previously interviewing for the Golden State Warriors head coaching job as well as with Mike Brown to continue in his position as a Lakers assistant.
There’s no hurry in filling out McHale’s staff, but it would be nice to clear it up sooner rather than later so that these names aren’t picked up by other teams once they fill their head coaching positions.
Who wants some fallout from the earlier press conference? Because we’ve got a ton of it now. Rockets.com’s Jason Friedman had a sitdown with McHale, bringing up the coaches demeanor as a key reason the Rockets hired him:
He carries himself with the self assurance of someone whose resume includes three world championships, a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame and the designation as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. But his is not a swagger bordering on arrogance; instead, it simply strikes you as the sort of belief borne of someone supremely at ease within the comfort of his skin.
Rockets management spoke to dozens of men who had either played for him or worked alongside him. Again and again the raves came crashing in. Two separate players even said the same thing: “He made me feel like Superman.”
The Rockets introduced new head coach Kevin McHale to a throng of local media reporters today, and the results were predictably suave. McHale used his experience in TV and came off as very slick, and he, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, and Rockets GM Daryl Morey took questions for about 25 minutes.
McHale stayed mostly on point, talking about how he was looking forward to having an entire training camp to shape a team rather than doing the limited things he could as a mid-season replacement. He also noted that he believes the Rockets have pieces in place that can be part of a championship team.
One funny tidbit occurred when McHale was questioned about personnel acquisitions and what it would be like on the other side of the desk as a former GM, and how Morey would be in charge of that now. “Good,” McHale quipped to belly laughs.
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander spoke to the crowd about how the NBA has changed. “The game has evolved…we don’t think one person can do the whole job anymore,” he noted. The Rockets prized McHale’s leadership skills and thought he would be an effective delegate of what they hope is a terrific and deep coaching staff.
FOX 26’s Mark Berman has the latest on the Rockets’ assistant coaching search: Grizzlies assistant David Joerger will be in town today to interview for the lead assistant role to new head coach Kevin McHale, and following him through the door will be Nuggets assistant Melvin Hunt this weekend.
Joerger is presumed to be the favorite for the job, though as we all know, presumptive favorites mean little when it comes to the Rockets and coaches. Hunt, an ex-Rockets scout, might not be up for the same “lead” assistant position as Joerger. Rio Grande Vipers head coach Chris Finch is expected to be one of the names on new head coach Kevin McHale’s staff, but the other names are still unknown.
McHale will meet with the press at 10 A.M. CST on Friday to discuss the job with the Houston media. We’ll have an abbreviated transcript up as soon as possible, and you can follow along live at Rockets.com.
Yesterday afternoon the Houston Rockets officially sent out a press release revealing what we all knew a week ago: Kevin McHale will be the next coach of the team. More importantly, The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen finally got a chance to talk to McHale, and he delivered the sort of impressive answers you'd expect out of a man who beat out other qualified candidates for a good job:
"It would be silly for me to go out there and not do a lot of stuff that Rick Adelman does on the offensive end," McHale said. "Chris used to play for coach Adelman. He knows what a good coach he is. Chris and I talk all the time in the studio about how much we love that offense and how much we like the different things coach Adelman brought to the game. I'd be silly not to incorporate a lot of that into my offense."
"We need to get better defensively," McHale said. "Look at the Finals. It's really about defense and defensive accountability. Trying to outscore people in this league doesn't work. You have to maintain defensive integrity."
Keeping the Adelman offense around, eh? That should be music to the ears of some of the detractors the Rockets had picked up for letting their long time coach take off. With the players that are currently on the roster, it absolutely makes sense as well.
Look for Daryl Morey to make a strong bid at some assistants who could conceivably help build that defensive mentality, such as Memphis' David Joerger, as the offseason continues. Defensive passion starts with the coaching staff, and if McHale and company can spark a turn around out there, they'll already be worth the money.
New Rockets coach Kevin McHale did the pre-game show of the NBA Finals for NBA TV. You won’t believe this, but they actually had the gall to ask him about his new gig as Rockets coach. He handled it by shouting to the heavens that he hates Kevin Martin and wants to gut the team. No, actually he was diplomatic about it. Shocking, I know.
“Doing the TV has been fantastic,” McHale told NBA.com Tuesday. “But this was a chance. It came up, I talked to them. I was a little uncertain whether I was going to jump in with both feet — I wanted it to be the right situation — but after spending time with them, I felt this is a good situation to get involved in.”
“I had really wanted to coach again,” McHale told NBA.com. "You miss the competition when you’re away from it. That’s what I missed the last couple of years. I’ve done it my whole life.
“From a coaching standpoint, you have a lot more [impact] on the outcome of the game than when you’re GM-ing. My last stint with the guys in Minnesota, I really enjoyed myself with them. It was a younger team and I had a lot of fun doing it.”
Per Jonathan Feigen, McHale’s opening presser with the Rockets will take place on Friday morning. Look for him to wow the media with his sophisticated television charms, perhaps explaining that the idea of him running a basketball team is a lot like a mule with a spinning wheel.
The Rockets are looking for a lead assistant coach to groom into the head coaching role, and apparently their list starts three deep. According to The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, they’ll interview Memphis assistant David Joerger sometime this week:
The Rockets will also consider New Orleans Hornets assistant Michael Malone and Milwaukee Bucks assistant Kelvin Sampson, the individual familiar with the process said. Malone is considered a top candidate to join Mike Brown with the Los Angeles Lakers as a lead assistant. He had been on Brown’s staff in Cleveland before joining Monty Williams in New Orleans this season.
The Rockets would be very lucky to snag a coach like Joerger to sit the bench next to Kevin McHale. Houston will likely continue to take their time with the hires though, as they’ll have a month before the NBA Lockout is set to go into effect.
The Houston Rockets next head coach will be ex-Celtics star and ex-Timberwolves GM and coach Kevin McHale. According to Yahoo!‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, the two sides have agreed to terms for him to become the franchise’s next head coach.
Per Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle, McHale will get a three-year deal, with a team option for a fourth year.
I can see McHale coming in and re-juicing the roster. I can only assume that he’ll be more inclined to play the younger players and give them a shot to develop. McHale isn’t the skilled tactician that Adelman is, but I can only assume that based on experience alone he’ll be able to properly and patiently work with the younger big men and the remaining developmental players on the roster
I’d still really like to see Daryl Morey and company explain themselves, both because I wasn’t big on McHale as a candidate to begin with and because it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to have a “rebuilding” coach when your franchise doesn’t seem to believe in rebuilding. It should be a really interesting press conference, that’s for sure.
This is not a guarantee that the Rockets and McHale will actually come to an agreement on the terms, but Wojnarowski says that the two sides are determined to make this happen. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle is confirming Wojnarowski’s report.
McHale beat out Dallas assistant Dwane Casey and Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank for the job despite little NBA head coaching experience and a resume as a general manager that would make most blush. He’s perhaps most famous in NBA circles for offering an under the table contract to Joe Smith, which upon discovery, cost the Timberwolves four first round draft picks. He was not considered one of the better coaching prospects, so it will be extremely interesting to see the front office explain this hiring. I am dying to know what they saw in McHale that everyone else didn’t.
More as this story develops, naturally. Wojnarowski says a deal may not be completed until after the weekend. McHale coached parts of the 2004-05 and 2008-09 Timberwolves, leading them to a combined 39-55 record.
CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger, who has been all over this story, is now reporting that the Rockets will make a format offer to one of their three finalists as soon as today. The Rockets have been engaged in talks with ex-Minnesota Timberwolves coach/GM Kevin McHale, Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey, and Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank.
A second person familiar with the process told CBSSports.com Thursday night that the Rockets are expected to extend a formal offer to their top choice as early as Friday.
Sources have been told that Frank has been losing ground in the three-man race, but that no clear favorite has emerged. The Rockets have not extended an offer or engaged in contract negotiations with any of the candidates, sources said.
While McHale’s candidacy has been bolstered by a strong recommendation from former Celtics teammate and current Boston president Danny Ainge, sources said Casey is on firm ground by virtue of the fact that he is the only candidate still coaching in the playoffs. Another person with direct knowledge of the interview process said all three candidates have presented compelling visions for the team, but not all aspects of the candidates’ strategies are on the same page with Houston management.
We’re closing in on what will likely be the choice for next Rockets head coach, and fans are still completely in the dark. Perhaps a The Decision-esque special can be planned, with Daryl Morey handing a rose to the coach he likes best? Hey, it worked for LeBron James, didn’t it?
Most Rockets fans seem to be hoping it’s not McHale and pulling for Casey. For more on the search, check back here or at The Dream Shake.
Having interviewed Dwane Casey, Lawrence Frank, and Kevin McHale twice each, the Houston Rockets are close to hiring their next head coach, reports Ken Berger of CBS Sports. However, “no clear favorite has emerged” in the race, and Rockets management, led by team owner Leslie Alexander, has yet to formally offer the job to any of the three candidates.
One can understand, given the details of Berger’s report, why Houston has yet to make a hire. Because “all three candidates have presented compelling visions for the team,” for one, but also because each prospective coach’s plan has elements that clash with what Rockets management would like to see.
The Rockets job became available when the team decided not to let Rick Adelman’s contract expire, despite a 193-135 (.588) record over four seasons at the helm through considerable adversity, including the absence of franchise center Yao Ming.
Casey, a Dallas Mavericks assistant coach, won’t be available until the NBA Finals end, which could be as late as June 16. His head-coaching record spans less than two seasons, with an unimpressive 53-69 (.434) record, but he’s probably best known for what happened after the Minnesota Timberwolves fired him in 2007. At the time, they had a 20-20 record; they went 12-30 the rest of the way under interim head coach Randy Wittman.
Frank owns a career 225-241 (.483) record as a head coach, all with the New Jersey Nets, marred by an 0-16 mark to start the 2009/10 season. Last season, he joined Doc Rivers’ coaching staff with the Boston Celtics, a job for which he’s probably overqualified.
McHale coached the Timberwolves to an impressive 19-12 (.613) finish to the 2004/05 season, and returned to the sideline during the 2008/09 campaign after Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor fired Wittman; odd how McHale and Casey intersect here. With a less gifted roster, the Wolves closed with a 20-43 (.317) record under McHale, who now enjoys a career as an analyst for TNT.
In news first broken by Yahoo!‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets will send a contingent to Miami Wednesday to meet with ex-Timberwolves coach/general manager Kevin McHale. Rockets owner Les Alexander will accompany the club on the visit, a pretty likely sign of Houston’s serious interest in McHale as their next head coach:
Alexander will huddle with his front office soon thereafter the meeting, and will come to a final decision about whom to hire. The owner will make the ultimate decision on Rick Adelman’s replacement, but McHale will get the strongest endorsement of the basketball operations staff, sources said.
Casey is running a close second in the search, but sources said that Alexander loved his initial meeting with Frank, too.
Obviously, more on this as it develops. The Rockets might not make a decision today, but it shouldn’t be more than a few days away at this point. It looks like it’ll be either Dwane Casey or McHale.
I know McHale is not a popular choice right now and that most Rockets fans are more interested in seeing Casey hired. I certainly feel that way, anyway. It will be very interesting to see the rationale behind their interest in McHale, whether he gets the job or not.
A quick update here regarding the Houston Rockets search for a new head coach. Earlier on Monday, reports surfaced that Kevin McHale has emerged as the front-runner to replace Rick Adelman. Definitely an interesting development that Rockets’ fans likely have mixed reactions about. But judging from McHale’s comments on The Jim Rome Show on Monday, it sure sounds like he’d be eager to return to the bench after a frustrating stint as the coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
When asked if he’d like to return to coaching after a far less stressful year providing color commentary for TNT, McHale had this to say:
“The right situation Jim. There’s part of you that always enjoys the coaching. There’s nothing like being in the camaraderie, there’s nothing like being on the floor, that camaraderie. And you’ve done it since you were a little kid. And you miss that element of the competition and just being with the guys all with a single focus. So I wouldn’t say it’s definite I’m going to coach, but I do have the coaching bug, and I would like to get back and give it another shot, but the right situation. I think sometimes we can all be too selective… But I’m looking at a lot of stuff and we’ll see how it goes.”
Stay tuned at The Dream Shake for more Rockets’ news, analysis and fan discussion as we wait for further news on the head coaching search front.
Yahoo’s! Adrian Wojaorowski reported over the weekend that ex-Timberwolves coach and general manager Kevin McHale is the frontrunner for the Rockets coaching gig. McHale reportedly had a great interview with Houston late last week and could receive an offer sometime this week.
McHale made a strong final impression in conversations with Houston officials on Thursday in Chicago, and could receive a formal offer in the next week.
The Rockets are still deliberating on different scenarios involving the three finalists, sources say, but McHale is the candidate to beat for the job. Rockets owner Les Alexander must still ultimately sign off on the recommendation of GM Daryl Morey and his front office staff.
It would be nice to dismiss this story, as The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen has basically done, because Les Alexander hasn’t called the shot yet. Woj has a pretty strong track record though, and while McHale didn’t fit the mold of the other two coaching candidates, perhaps that just speaks more to how impressive he has been to the Houston operations staff.
SB Nation’s Tom Ziller says that picking McHale would be both brilliant and terrifying, and speculates that McHale would not be tied to Rockets GM Daryl Morey:
This is the bet by Morey and the Rockets should McHale get the job: that hiring a basketball warrior will either work in perfect concert with Morey’s numbers-based personnel decisions, or that hiring a basketball warrior will deflect enough criticism to save Morey’s job if Houston continues to struggle.
Consider the alternative. Consider Frank, who has proven himself as an NBA coach but who has a reputation more in fitting with Morey than most options. The brainy type, not the brawny type. If Morey hired Frank and the Rockets struggled, it’s not just Frank at risk. It’s Morey. If the GM stays inside of his wheelhouse, that wheelhouse is going to begin to be questioned.
I think that’s a huge leap. The Rockets organization isn’t going to hire someone just for the sake of deflecting criticism. Hell, the only person who really criticizes them now is Jerome Solomon, and he criticizes everybody who doesn’t get much criticism. If anything, it would make more sense to avoid hiring McHale because he would be the risky candidate as compared to Frank and Casey.
But to each his own. It seems likely that the Rockets will make some movement on this in the coming week, so keep it here and we’ll update you as news comes down.
Despite certain reports to the contrary, The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen says that nothing about the new Rockets coaching job has been decided yet. He does mention my line of thought from a few days back that the Rockets could be perceived as waiting on Mavericks Dwane Casey, but notes that this is far from over:
There might be a tendency to believe the Rockets indecision on the coaching position indicates Dallas’ Dwane Casey is the favorite among the finalists. Kevin McHale and Lawrence Frank are available now. Casey is not. If the Rockets keep waiting, they could be waiting for Casey.
That might eventually true, but they have not aimed for a decision this week. Morey is going back and forth between interviews with coaches and draft prospects. Leslie Alexander is out of the country.
If the Rockets had to make a decision now, they probably could. And they could certainly get every thought needed from the owner regardless of where he is, assuming he is not off climbing Kilimanjaro. But for now, it is still a three-coach race.
HoopsWorld reported the other day that McHale was the frontrunner for the job, but that seems to be unsubstantiated at this point. Until more news comes out, it’s hard to speculate beyond the fact that they appear to be waiting for Casey, but perhaps more concrete news and rumors will start up again next week.
Rockets center Yao Ming had a check-up on his ankle today, about six months after a stress fracture cost him most of his 2011 season, and said that everything was looking good. He also said that, so long as the ankle holds up, he thinks it’s likely he’ll be in a Rockets uniform next year:
Yao went to the doctor on Wednesday for an update and said he received good news.
“Actually I just visited yesterday,” Yao said. "Everything looks good.
“The pictures (MRI) showed great news.”
He was asked if he wants to continue playing with the Rockets.
“I like to be,” Yao said. “There’s nowhere else better than Houston.”
Yao said he believes both sides want to make sure that happens.
“I don’t think that’s an issue anymore,” Yao said. “I think the only issue is my injury.”
Given the smoke out of both camps for the last few months, this isn’t exactly a surprise. Yao might have to come back in a bench role with a reduced salary, but the Rockets definitely seem to want him back. The constant injuries are a scary thing, and I’m in agreement with Red 94 that working Yao into and out of the rotation definitely could cost the Rockets games if he can’t keep healthy. But it looks like Houston is willing to continue taking that risk.
The Houston Rockets have reportedly already wrapped up second interviews with Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank. Marc Stein, via Twitter, reported that the Rockets will soon give a second interview to TNT analyst Kevin McHale to wrap up their coaching search.
The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reports that the Rockets have no timetable to make the hire.
The Rockets do not have a timetable to make the hire, according to a person with knowledge of their thinking, indicating they will wait for Casey to become available after the Mavericks’ playoff run. Coaches are not permitted to have positions with two teams at once, but the Rockets could seek permission from the Mavericks to name Casey and allow him to finish his duties with the Mavericks should they choose him.
The Rockets have not made that request, and when asked if he would permit the Rockets to name Casey during the playoffs, Dallas owner Mark Cuban said he would not address a hypothetical situation.
If the Rockets clearly look like they are waiting on Casey, I don’t know what other sign one could possibly need to guess that he is their first choice in the coaching search. Perhaps the Rockets could be waiting out the looming NBA lockout so they don’t have to enter it with a coach under contract, but that seems like a move that’s a bit too cheap to be Les Alexander’s typical work.
According to Mark Berman of FOX 26, the Rockets met yesterday with Boston Celtics assistant coach Lawrence Frank for a second interview. Frank is one of three finalists for the job, along with Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwane Casey and TNT Analyst Kevin McHale.
Frank coached the Nets for portions of seven seasons during the late Jason Kidd era and an ugly decline phase once he was dealt to Dallas. The Nets played tough without Kidd, but eventually the rest of the roster was also scattered as Kenyon Martin, Richard Jefferson, and others found themselves on new teams as well. Frank was fired after starting the 2009-2010 season off with sixteen straight losses.
Frank is very similar to Casey in terms of what he’d bring to the table. A young assistant with NBA head coaching experience and a penchant for getting the best out of his players defensively. While it seems to be common to anoint Casey as the front runner because of the Mavericks recent playoff success, there probably wouldn’t be much of a dropoff in going to Frank, and Frank actually got his teams to the playoffs when he coached them.
Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle has a fresh batch of Rockets coaching goodies for us this morning. One bit of news that was nice in a “oh hey, closure!” sort of way was that the Rockets finally interviewed TNT analyst and ex-Timberwolves coach/GM Kevin McHale. I was wondering how exactly he had become a finalist for the job without even an official interview, especially since he was supposed to have been brought in last week. Regardless, glad to see that finally happened.
Now, about those finalists. Dwane Casey, Lawrence Frank, and McHale were reported as your three finalists on Monday. Feigen says that if there is a leader in the pack, it’s likely the Mavericks’ assistant Casey.
I can’t really predict who among the three finalists will emerge as the next Rockets coach. In a list with Lawrence Frank, Dwane Casey and Kevin McHale, one name does not seem to belong with the others. Frank and Casey are long-serving assistant coaches now running the defensive end for the Celtics and Mavericks, respectively. Since his Hall of Fame career, most of McHale’s time was in the front office.
Daryl Morey knows him well. They worked together on those joint predraft workouts for several years. He would not be wasting McHale’s time if he was not interested, but it seems strange to have Frank and Casey as finalists for the same job as McHale, who interviewed with Morey on Tuesday. Between Frank and Casey, it is difficult to pick a favorite. Both are greatly respected around the league. Casey might have more player development time in his career so if I have to pick a favorite, I’d guess it would be Casey.
It sure would seem like the Rockets most logical fit would be Casey, who will be interviewing with the Warriors some time soon as well. It’s still strange to see McHale as a candidate, let alone one that the Rockets are taking seriously, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they chose him. Casey should likely be seen as the favorite at this point though. The Rockets job is likely more appealing than the Warriors job, but it would be nice if Houston showed some urgency in getting this whole thing wrapped up just to be safe.
You’ve seen the Rockets bring in anyone who would pay their own airfare about their empty head coaching position, now be prepared to cast aside so many of these men and think about just three. Yes, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, the search has been narrowed to three. It should come as no surprise that two of the men the Rockets actually had to leave the building for, Dwane Casey and Lawrence Frank, are still in the running. The other is ex-Timberwolves head coach/GM Kevin McHale.
Dwane Casey, Lawrence Frank and Kevin McHale have emerged as finalists, heading into a last few interviews. They are among the very few from the deep pool of candidates with head coaching experience; Frank with the Nets and McHale and Casey with the Timberwolves. Casey and Frank add some strong assistant coaching credentials, with Casey adding a vital role in the Mavericks’ dismantling of the Lakers to his bio this week.
One would have to think that Casey would be the favorite for the job at this point, coming off a stunning domination of the Lakers. Casey was perhaps tossed away too fast in Minnesota, where he managed to play just under .500 ball despite a team full of misfits surrounding Kevin Garnett.
Frank is likely still a credible hire as well, as he coached above .500 ball for years in New Jersey in the waning parts of the Jason Kidd era. The Rockets must have sneaked in their interview with McHale, but either way, it doesn’t seem like he matches the qualities of the other two. I’d call him a substantial underdog at this point.
In news first broken by ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Rockets traveled to Dallas yesterday for a pre-approved interview with Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey. Casey was the last Timberwolves head coach to approach anything near .500, and has been credited with helping the Mavericks turn their defense around.
Another out-of-left-field candidate came into view this morning when the Rockets added Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel to the mix. Vogel led the Pacers to a 20-18 record after Jim O’Brien was fired. No word yet on when the interview will take place. The Rockets reportedly resisted the urge to interview the rest of the Indiana coaching staff, although I’m sure the pull was quite strong.
Kevin McHale of TNT continues to be the only name on the Rockets list that hasn’t gotten an official interview yet. It seems likely that this will occur in the next few days, although the coaching search has definitely taken on a cloak-and-dagger quality of late, with the Rockets taking trips to see Casey and Lawrence Frank while they are still in the playoffs.
The Rockets might not get to hire their favorite coach out there this offseason, but they’re definitely getting points for effort. Yesterday they interviewed the inspirational John Lucas, who hasn’t been an NBA coach since he helped the Cavaliers tank the 2002-03 season for the rights to LeBron James. Lucas was most recently known as the lifestyle coach who quit on NFL No. 1 overall pick and bust JaMarcus Russell.
Lucas said he and Morey had a good meeting.
“It was pretty lengthy,” Lucas said. "It went probably a good 2 1/2 hours.
“I thought it was very interesting. That’s a team that’s in the middle of the pack that has the capabilties to really improve. It’s a great opportunity for anyone.”
Lucas last coached in the NBA in the 2009-10 season, when he was an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s highly unlikely that he’ll wind up with the Rockets job, but again, you can’t blame the front office for turning over every rock that they can.
The Rockets supposedly still have a meeting with TNT analyst and former Timberwolves coach/GM Kevin McHale. Other mystery candidates will likely pop up along the way, as they have been doing throughout the process.
According to The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, the Rockets sat down with Sam Cassell yesterday to discuss their vacant head coaching position. Cassell has been an assistant coach with the Wizards for the past two seasons, and was a member of both Rockets championship teams in 1993-94 and 1994-95. He has been regarded as a good tutor for Wizards No.1 pick John Wall. Cassell is likely just a fringe candidate for the Rockets coaching job, but it’s good to see the organization giving interviews to it’s old standbys.
The Rockets also reportedly met with Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank in Miami on Monday. This is a little more interesting. The Rockets have been playing things very close to the vest and not leaving town to publicly take trips. This could be a sign that Frank is one of the internal leading candidates.
TNT analyst Kevin McHale is also supposed to be interviewed for the head coaching gig some time this week.
In what can only be called some fine investigative reporting, the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen has tracked down the inner workings behind former coach Rick Adelman’s departure. The Rockets tried to force Adelman to take their guy as an assistant in a new contract and Adelman had none of it, standing behind his assistants:
Adelman could have remained the Rockets’ head coach, but was told that the Rockets had decided to hire his successor and put him on Adelman’s coaching staff if he remained, according to two individuals with knowledge of the talks.
Adelman, 64, has long touted lead assistant Elston Turner as ready to lead a team, but the Rockets were not willing to designate Turner as Adelman’s successor, leading to Turner’s decision to turn down an offer to interview for the head coaching position.
There were discussions about adding Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Chris Finch to the Rockets staff, according to both persons familiar with the talks, but it is unclear if Finch would have been designated as the head coach in waiting.
Well, that certainly explains why Turner turned down the chance to interview for the gig. Very interesting. I wonder what exactly the Rockets didn’t care for about Turner.
This isn’t exactly a scandal, but it has the potential to be seen as a very curious position in the future if the Rockets next coach doesn’t turn out to be a top-of-the-line mastermind. The pressure is on, Daryl Morey.
The Rockets will interview Wizards assistant Sam Cassell and TNT broadcaster Kevin McHale this week. Other interviews will be scheduled pending playoff departures for assistants such as Memphis’ David Joerger, Boston’s Lawrence Frank, and Dallas’ Dwane Casey.
Word out of the Boston Herald today is that the Celtics have granted permission for the Rockets to interview assistant coach Lawrence Frank for their vacant head coaching job. Frank was one of the youngest coaches in the league when he took the reins in New Jersey, and currently runs the defense for the Celtics.
The Celtics assistant coach declined comment, saying that his focus is on the playoffs and the Miami Heat in particular.
The Rockets will interview Sam Cassell and Kevin McHale for the job this week. Mike Budenholzer is out after saying he wanted to stay in San Antonio last night. Frank’s interview will likely come after the Celtics are out of the playoffs, whenever that occurs.
So far, the Rockets have met with Jack Sikma, Mario Elie, Mike Woodson, and Kelvin Sampson. They are likely to talk to several other coaches before they start deciding on who the best fit might be, including ex-Cavaliers coach Mike Brown.
Spurs Nation passes along word that may burst some bubbles in the search for the next Rockets coach. Mike Budenholzer, who might have been my favorite name in the entire process, has decided to stay with San Antonio:
“I’d prefer not to say anything and just keep my name out of it as much as possible,” Budenholzer said of the speculation that he will be a candidate for head coaching jobs.
“It’s hard to explain. I’m very flattered and it’s something I want to do someday, but for right now, I’ve decided the best thing for me and my family is to stay in San Antonio.
“That could change at some time, but for the foreseeable future that’s how I feel, and that’s how I’ve felt for the last little while.”
Tom Martin at The Dream Shake has his take on the Rockets coaching scenario without Budenholzer around, and notes that Houston has no shortage of candidates at this point:
Stan Van Gundy is the favorite should he become available. From there, my preferences lie in Dwane Casey, Lawrence Frank or even Memphis assistant Dave Joeger, though I have a feeling New York might snag him as an assistant to help re-shape their defense. There are plenty more names, such as Jack Sikma, Mario Elie, Sam Cassell and even Kevin McHale, but Casey, Frank and Joerger remain the most appealing in my book, though I’m sure this will change in the coming weeks.
Casey definitely did flash an affinity for bringing the best out of his teams in Minnesota, although one could say the same thing for Eric Musselman when he ran the Warriors and that hasn’t helped him get much of a sniff at another job. Frank coached the Nets during the decline phase of the Jason Kidd era, and has been noted as a defensive specialist.
The Houston Rockets completed their first sweep of interviews yesterday after sitting down with former Hawks coach Mike Woodson. Woodson coached the Hawks from a 13 win doormat to a 53 win Eastern Conference contender before being unceremoniously booted out the door. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle got in touch with Woodson afterwards to see how the interview went:
"You would like to think that would have some value to it," Woodson said of his head coaching experience. "I'm sure all the other guys have their qualities as well. The fact that I was able to take a team from scratch and build it speaks volumes. It was a good six-year run for me. Hopefully I'll have another opportunity.
"I thought it went well. It was a long interview, which I expected. They gave me an opportunity to know the general manager, Daryl Morey, and his staff and for them to get to know me. I thought it was very productive."
Woodson is not expected to be a serious contender for the job. Then again, nobody knows who the actual serious contenders for the job are just yet. The Rockets will reportedly bring in Sam Cassell and Kevin McHale next week, and they may be joined by some other assistants or coaches depending on what happens in the next few days of the NBA playoffs.
In a blog yesterday for the Houston Chronicle, Rockets beat writer Jonathan Feigen weighs in on reading between the lines of the Houston coaching search. The result? Feigen thinks it’s much more likely that Houston selects an assistant coach than an established veteran:
Actually, the bulk of that list, minus a few guys with Houston ties, looks a lot like the presumptive Coach of the Year, Tom Thibodeau, a former Rockets assistant the Rockets showed no interest in retaining when Jeff Van Gundy left.
Thibodeau ran the Boston defense before guiding the Bulls to 62 wins this season with the league’s best defense. He paid tons of dues, with many stops before joining Van Gundy’s staffs in New York and Houston, working under everyone from Bill Musselman to Jerry Tarkanian. But if you check out those names on the list of coaches the Rockets will seek to interview – Malone, Budenholzer, Casey, Frank, Joeger – there does seem to be a common thread that runs through much of the list. Give or take a few experiences, they look a lot like Thibodeau.
The early guess is that the Rockets will try to find some hidden star. It would explain why they are going through such an exhaustive process. They might not even have a profile of the next coach yet, but looking at the list, I’d still bet on one of those assistants, running a defense and fitting the Thibs trend.
Sounds like an imminently reasonable deduction given the lists that the Rockets have put together so far. And with so many assistants on the list, one can hardly blame Morey for looking under every nook and cranny. Sounds like some lower-level management types spent all summer making a study of successful coaching traits!
“I’m very excited,” Elie said. “I like their commitment to winning and bringing back the success of the championship years.
“We knocked it around for quite a bit, about three to four hours. Those guys are very sharp. They know what they want. I had a good time with these gentlemen.”
“I feel good about it,” said Sikma, an assistant on Rick Adelman’s staff the past four seasons. “I’m in more of a unique situation. I approach it as an opportunity to interview for a head coaching position. I thought it was a good exchange.”
The Rockets will interview Mike Woodson today, and will probably have some more interviews lined up for next week to to along with Kevin McHale and Sam Cassell depending on which teams have been ousted from the playoffs at that point.
As Daryl Morey continues his exhaustive search for a head coach, two new names were introduced to the fold yesterday as Washington Wizards assistant Sam Cassell and TNT analyst Kevin McHale will interview for the position next week. Neither is considered a front-runner for the position, but if there is one thing you can’t accuse the Rockets of doing in their search for a new head coach, it’s not doing their due diligence.
Cassell has no head coaching experience. McHale coached the Timberwolves in 2005 and 2009, finishing with a pretty pedestrian 39-55 record, and was also a long-time general manager for the club as they ultimately failed to surround Kevin Garnett with the pieces they needed to get him to the NBA Finals. He also was hit with a massive fine and forfeiture of several draft picks after a hidden wink-wink agreement on a new contract with Joe Smith was discovered by the NBA.
The Rockets are in no rush to fill the position, so look for more names to come into focus over the next week or so before the list finally narrows.
Per the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, the Rockets will begin their search for a new head coach today as they bring in Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Kelvin Sampson for an interview. Sampson has been a Bucks assistant ever since being fired in a recruiting scandal in Indiana. No word on how he plans to incite recruiting violations in the NBA yet, but my guess would be by trying to tempt players to join his team before coaches and players are officially allowed to speak.
The Rockets have lined up a slew of other interviews this week, as Jack Sikma and Mario Elie will be in the building on Wednesday, and former Hawks coach Mike Woodson will talk to Daryl Morey on Thurdsay.
Pending their playoff advancement, the Rockets will also eventually interview Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, Boston assistant Lawrence Frank, Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer, and Memphis assistant Dave Joeger. They’re also expected to eventually interview former Cavs head coach Mike Brown and Clippers assistant Dean Demopoulos.
The Rockets are committed to a exhaustive coaching search, so don’t be surprised if this lasts into the summer and possibly into the (likely) NBA Lockout.
The AP has a story out of Beijing where Yao Ming was interviewed about his future basketball prospects. Misleading headline alert: it says that Yao has no desire to leave the Rockets.
Unfortunately, it does have this tidbit in it:
He says he wouldn’t consider moving if conditions offered by another team were similar to those given by the Rockets.
So rather than an actual “no desire” pledge, the short of the article is Yao hopes to recover from his surgery, hopes to be with the Rockets, and plans to let them match any offer.
That’s well and good, but it’s not exactly “no desire to leave”. Yao Ming has made almost $100 million in his career. What does an extra $3 or $4 million mean to him? Well, apparently enough to actually state that he wants to stay if the contract terms are actually similar.
Besides, who knows what the free agent market will look like for Yao next year? Nothing much has developed yet, but that doesn’t mean that a desperate center-hungry team couldn’t overpay him by a lot (hi Golden State!) looking for publicity and gambling the production will warrant the contract.
According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the Houston Rockets have the Mavericks permission to interview assistant coach Dwane Casey for their vacant head coaching job once Dallas is eliminated from the playoffs. Stein’s sources seem to think that Casey is a credible option for the job:
Sources said that Casey is one of the more serious candidates on a long list of potential Houston targets to replace Rick Adelman, which stems partly from the Rockets’ high regard for Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. Casey came to Dallas with Carlisle to run the Mavs’ defense starting with the 2008-09 season after posting a record of 53-69 in 1½ seasons as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Sources say that the Rockets will not rush their search, however, to allow for the possibility that candidates not currently available — such as Orlando’s Stan Van Gundy — could suddenly hit the market like Adelman did, depending on what happens in the playoffs.
Casey posted a 53-69 record with the Minnesota Timberwolves over two seasons, which averages out to right about 35.5 wins a season by percentage. In their last four seasons since his firing, the Timberwolves have yet to win more than 24 games.
Jonathan Feigen’s latest on the Rockets head coaching search brings even more names to the forefront. New to the game, per the article, are Clippers assistant coach Dean Demopoulos, Philadelphia assistant Quin Snyder, Memphis assistant Dave Joeger, and, if he’s not named to replace Phil Jackson, Lakers assistant Brian Shaw.
This paragraph is quite a perplexing puzzle. Lets see if we can figure it out:
As with Morey’s description of the players he wants, they will seek a coach on the rise and particularly with a determination to grow on the job. They will not, however, want someone who will need on-the-job training, instead seeking a coach with the experience to be in charge immediately and handle early rough spots.
So they want a coach that’s on the rise…but also a coach that has experience? That’s not an easy horse to find, Daryl.
The only candidates the Rockets seem to have ruled out in advance, Feigen says, are college head coaches with no NBA experience.
Reading between the lines though, and I know this won’t eliminate every experienced candidate for the job, it seems to me that Morey is less interested in bringing in a guy that has instant credibility and more interested in finding someone who he personally thinks can help grow the team. Mike Brown could very well be a fit for them, but my initial thought is that this tends to favor the assistants like Mike Budenholzer. Personality and planning could win out over credentials here.
After four winning seasons with an average record of 48-34, the Houston Rockets decided not to retain head coach Rick Adelman, whose contract with the club expired upon the end of the season. Under Adelman, the Rockets finished the last two seasons with the West's ninth-best record despite injuries to Yao Ming and a roster without a single marquee player. Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey addressed his decision, which he arrived at after a "tough, tough set of days," in an interview with Houston's KILT radio.
The biggest takeaway from the interview is that some philosophical differences led to Adelman's departure. "Yeah, obviously there is a different sort of view on certain things," Morey said. "I’ve agreed to sort of keep those conversations private so I’m going to honor that."
While we're not privy to exactly what went on behind closed doors, SB Nation's Tom Ziller says Adelman was not always interested in the advanced statistical profiles the Rockets' analytics staff provided him before games:
Speaking of Houston and advanced stats, I've heard from a few people that Adelman wasn't exactly gung ho about the detailed reems of data.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet ReplyTom Ziller
Under Morey, Houston has become the league's highest-profile team when it comes to the use of statistics in personnel and strategic decisions.
Additionally, Morey says the team is in a different situation now compared to the last time they had to fill a coaching vacancy:
Last time, though, we had a pretty solid foundation with Tracy [McGrady] and Yao and we were trying to fill out that foundation. We feel like we’re in a different state this time where we’re still trying to build a foundation and we’re looking for a coach that fits that environment.
The Rockets have elected not to retain coach Rick Adelman. Jonathan Feign of the Houston Chronicle reports that Adelman is disappointed that he will not be retuning to Houston, and that he would have been open to a return had the organization suggested it. Adelman will head back to his home in Portland to weigh his future, but that he has no plans of retiring.
"I definitely would look at situations," Adelman, 64, said. "It's not like I'm retiring. I'm OK with doing something else. We'd like to travel. We'd like to do things we weren't able to do because of basketball. If there is no basketball, we're ready for that. But I would look at things if they come up."
Adelman also said that there were some disagreements with what the future of the organization should like, and Adelman's role in helping them get there; which must be the reason that they decided to let him walk. Adelman suggested that assistants Elston Turner and Jack Sikma were ready to be NBA coaches, but there is no word that they are part of the Rockets search for a new coach.
Last night, the Rockets list whittled down from 85 potential coaches to 84, as Houston assistant Elston Turner withdrew his name from consideration to be the next Rockets head coach. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen broke the story, and here’s what Turner’s agent had to say about it:
“Elston is taking himself out of the running as a candidate for the Houston Rockets’ head coaching position for reasons we choose not to explain,” said Warren LeGarie, Turner’s agent. “If circumstances should change in the future, we would have to look at this situation again.”
Turner, 51, confirmed the withdrawal of his name.
Rockets assistant Jack Sikma is still in the running for the position, so it’s still a possibility that the position will be turned over to someone currently in the organization.
Reading between the lines here, perhaps Turner considered himself as part of Adelman’s “camp” and there was a divisive issue like say, the data the Rockets front office wanted the coaches to use. If Turner didn’t want to use that data either, then it makes sense that he would step aside and let the Rockets focus on someone else.
The rumor mill fired up rather quickly following the departure of Rockets head coach Rick Adelman from the team on Monday evening. Just who will the Rockets look to bring in to replace the venerable head coach? From early rumors, it looks like Stan Van Gundy and Mike Brown are the most talked about pair, while the Rockets will interview some of their own assistant coaches and some of the league's most well-regarded assistants as well. Here's the original list that the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen came up with:
Feigen says that the first interviews will go to Sikma, Turner, and Elie:
The first interviews, however, will go to Elston Turner, Jack Sikma and Mario Elie. They would need to wow Morey and Alexander in interviews, which will mean showing an emphasis on developing players.
Sounds like they're tertiary candidates at best from that description. But you never know.
The two big camps at this point seem to be the established camp where Van Gundy rules the roost, and the "find the next Tom Thibodeau" camp which seems to have taken up Mike Budenholzer as their cause. Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski commented on both of these, saying the Rockets would have a strong interest in Van Gundy if the Magic let him go after the season:
Stan has job in Orlando but if he becomes available after playoffs, he's held in high regard within Rockets. Jeff still lives in Houston.
On the "next coaching superstar search," he has this to say:
Others believe Rockets want to go unconventional and try to unearth the next big coaching star. Well, who doesn't? Easier said than done.
While Feigen adds, on the prospect of Budenholzer:
If Tom Thibodeau's success leads to the start of the next trend - and any second thoughts about letting him get out of town - San Antonio's Mike Budenholzer, long, longtime Popovich assistant, would fit that mold.
Personally, I think I'd steer my cart in the direction of Budenholzer. Not only should the Rockets be chasing great rather than solid, but the idea of simultaenously weakening the Spurs has to be tempted. I'd also consider Casey, who was doing some pretty decent things with the Timberwolves in comparison to what their other coaches have done recently. The Van Gundy boys also make plenty of sense.
There is certainly no lack of candidates in this one. Look for the Rockets to spend quite a bit of time deciding who the best candidate will be out of this group.
Rockets forward Luis Scola had surgery on his troublesome left knee yesterday and should be just fine for the start of training camp. Scola suffered what the Rockets doctors called a “slight knee strain” in late February. He fought through the pain, even wearing a brace for a few games, before losing his streak of 311 consecutive games played against the Suns on March 8th.
Scola faces an uncertain future in Houston this offseason. He’s been a very productive player for the Rockets, but rookie forward Patrick Patterson continued to play his way into a greater share of the minutes as the season wound down. Scola is also the oldest regular rotation player on the Rockets; he’ll be 31 by the start of the next season. Scola also has a long-term contract that will keep him through his Age 35 season, meaning it may be best to deal him now before the inevitable decline starts.
Either way, it doesn’t sound like the injury was all that serious, and Scola should be fine for training camp. Assuming, of course, there is one.
The Rockets lost head coach Rick Adelman in a "mutual parting of ways" yesterday evening. Adelman continued his trend of getting the most out of his guys, coaching a depleted Rockets squad that was without Yao Ming for a second year in a row to a winning record. However, Adelman also oversaw two more Rockets playoff failings--understandable given the sheer number of injuries he had to endure, mind you, but a loss is a loss is a loss, and Adelman continues to struggle once the regular season is over.
"I think we lost one of the greatest coaches of all time," Martin said. "We took a step backwards. It's like losing a great player. You see what happens. But for now, we took a step backwards."
For now, the Rockets invited "a Hall of Fame coach" to leave. That's a tough way to get better.
Certainly the players played well for him down the stretch this year, but hasn't the writing been on the wall about this move for at least the last year? The Rockets never initiated a contract extension with Adelman, never really catered to him, and owner Les Alexander has been said by more than one source to not see eye-to-eye on things with him.
More importantly, just how hard is it to replace a coach? I would certainly say that there are more bad coaches than good coaches, but there appears to be quite a few solid coaching candidates this offseason. Throw in the fact that over the last 30 years, just 10 separate head coaches have won NBA titles, and it seems to be a difference-making position for a franchise.
However good Adelman may have been, and however well the offense may have fit the players that the Rockets have now, he wasn't one of those 10. He may make the Hall Of Fame anyway, but given his inability to win a ring, the Rockets probably shouldn't be faulted for trying to find someone who can.
After missing the NBA playoffs the past two seasons — despite posting winning records — Adelman and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey failed to reach agreements on how they would continue to work together according to Houston Chronicle reporter Jonathan Feigen.
The Adelman led Rockets became the first team since the Suns in 1970-71 and 1971-72 to have consecutive seasons with winning records fail to reach the post-season, something that one would think should be enough to save his job considering the absence of Yao Ming this season among other things.
Adelman’s replacements could vary quite a bit, but Feigen mentioned a large amount of possibilities in his story that the Rockets could turn to for next season including former Cleveland coach Mike Brown, former Hawks coach Mike Woodson, Jeff Van Gundy, Rockets assistant Elston Turner, Dallas assistant Dwane Casey, San Antonio’s Mike Budenholzer and Boston assistant Lawrence Frank.
Seeing how the Rockets have been so involved with the D-League, it might not be a stretch to include Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Chris Finch among the candidates as well.
After Fran Blinebury of NBA.com speculated that Rick Adelman would likely leave last Tuesday, spurring an excellent Dream Shake post on the topic, Marc Spears of Yahoo! is reporting that multiple league sources think the two sides will split as well:
Adelman and owner Les Alexander don't exactly see eye-to-eye. The veteran coach also could be attracted to a possible opening on another team that would offer him a better chance to win.
The Rockets want their coach to play their young players and embrace their creativity in the free-agent market, which doesn't sound like a team adamant about winning immediately. Adelman, who turns 65 on June 16, was in the last year of his contract this season. Injuries to Yao Ming - and Tracy McGrady in past seasons - prevented him from ever coaching the roster he envisioned he'd have in Houston.
If this is the end for Adelman, there will be no shortage of qualified replacements on the market this offseason. Spears mentions the possibility of ex-Cavaliers coach Mike Brown, last seen running the same isolation play for LeBron James for every offensive possession, as a possibility. He also thinks the Rockets could keep it in-house with top assistant Elston Turner.
Meanwhile, Blinebury mentions Mike Budenholzer, a Spurs assistant who is widely credited with helping them improve their defensive prowess. Sacramento Kings blog (for the moment) Sactown Royalty had a thorough breakdown of Budenholzer's achievements so far.
Houston Rockets fans are used to seeing center Yao Ming in street clothes after the past few seasons, and if there's a failing of GM Daryl Morey's plans the last few seasons, it's been that he hasn't been able to secure a credible backup plan at the five for Yao. He was ever-so-close to pulling off a trade for Tyson Chandler last offseason, but instead Chandler moved on to the Mavericks.
So what will the Rockets do in the paint this offseason? Yao and Chuck Hayes are both free agents, and while the free agent class doesn't have much in the way of star big men, there are a lot of quality options that the Rockets could pursue. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle goes into a few of them in his latest piece:
The Grizzlies' Marc Gasol and the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan will be restricted free agents. Both teams have said they will match offers their centers receive, but the new CBA could bring an immediate or phased-in hard salary cap that could make it difficult for Memphis and could give Los Angeles pause to match offers.
Increased salary-cap restrictions also could make Dallas' Tyson Chandler, who will be an unrestricted free agent, available. The Rockets had a deal in place to get Chandler last summer. Though that fell through, it does indicate the Rockets' interest.
They also had talked with Utah reserve Kyrylo Fesenko, who returned to the Jazz but will be an unrestricted free agent. Sacramento's Samuel Dalembert will be a free agent also able to bring needed size and defensive presence inside.
Free agents Yao Ming and Hayes have said they want to return, and Morey said he would like them back. However, Hayes and Yao have been with the Rockets long enough, longer than any of their teammates, to know how unpredictable things will be.
There's a significant subset of Rockets fans that don't want Yao Ming back at any price simply because he all that likely to stay healthy. However, it's hard to let a player of Yao's talent walk in free agency unless he is dramatically overpaid somehow, and with NBA owners focusing on crying poor in advance of the looming lockout, that sounds like an unlikely combination.
Still, it's hard to imagine the Rockets successfully luring Jordan or Gasol to Houston considering the public statements made about them by their front offices. Chandler would sure look good, as would Dalembert.
For more on the Rockets free agent machinations, check out The Dream Shake.
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