Rockets Coaching Search: Do Rockets Prefer 'Hidden Star'?

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!

In related news, Mario Elie and Jack Sikma both went through interviews yesterday, here’s what they both had to say about them:

“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.

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