Obviously, as we draw curtains on the Houston Rockets’ season there are several positions within the organization which are in need of review. Leslie Alexander has pledged that he and Daryl Morey will undertake a full scale evaluation of every position.
One position within the franchise has generated more interest than that of others, and that is the job of head coach.
We are all aware that Kevin McHale was fired (somewhat prematurely in my opinion) 11 games into the season, and J.B Bickerstaff took the reigns in an interim role for the remainder of the season. I have been critical of Bickerstaff previously and I don’t think he really is a positive for the Rockets on the bench. He seems to get caught up in the game too much and doesn’t focus on proper strategy in regard to how to beat the other team.
And don’t get me started on his god-awful rotations.
It was expected the Rockets would be in the driver’s seat for any coaches come the off season but Tom Thibodeau, Luke Walton and Scott Brooks have already made a change of address elsewhere and I think this is for the best. It appears that Jeff Van Gundy is the top target in this coaching search, yet apparently no interviews have been officially scheduled. It would therefore come to reason that the Rockets have not officially scheduled interviews with any other candidates, and this could be a smart ploy on the Rockets behalf.
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It is expected that this roster will undergo a huge make over, with around half the squad expected to be moved on through free agency or trades. The Rockets should not hide this fact, rather embrace it and use it as part of their pitch to free agents this summer. A roster with around $40M in cap space with a young MVP runner-up, a (what will be) young core of players, and the real kicker – an opportunity to have input on your new head coach.
That could be a strong pitch to free agents who will realize that they can carve their own niche in Houston to keep up with the star power in Golden State, San Antonio and Cleveland. The league climate of exploding salary caps and all-time great teams in Golden State and San Antonio could push disillusioned players into teaming up and forming a “Big 3.”
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Let’s use an example:
Kevin Durant is disgruntled with his Oklahoma City Thunder team who just got crushed in the West Semi’s by San Antonio 4-1. Kevin will understand that what he has on his roster in OKC is not enough to get him that ring he so desperately craves. As the salary cap skyrockets, the Thunder are still mired by the long-term deals they signed players to in season’s past, so there isn’t much room on this roster to improve.
Durant is one of the best in the league and he has gained much respect from his adversaries over his career, so he would have the pulling power to bring someone with him to a team with a ready-made star.
There’s one team that has a lot of cap space and also has his best friend on as its top accessory.
Oh, you mean the Houston Rockets?
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these players, as the climate of the league doesn’t usually allow for you to have a star and then sign two more max deals on top of that.
This situation may never be repeated, and certainly not while these players are still in the league. Yes, many teams have cap space but can they provide the opportunity that is currently awaiting in Houston?
The opportunity to influence your new hire and to build a roster entirely around yours, and your co-stars strengths and weaknesses is an occurrence that’s extremely unique.
Delaying the coaching search for the Rockets may just be the free agency weapon they need.