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.