Just How Important Was Rick Adelman Anyway?

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.

So just how big of a deal is it that the Rockets are losing Adelman? Kevin Martin seems to think it's a huge deal. As does the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen in his latest blog of the situation:

"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.

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