Houston Rockets: The firing of assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik isn’t surprising

Former Houston Rockets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Former Houston Rockets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik was fired yesterday and the news doesn’t come as too surprising. What’s going on? How should they replace?

The fallout to the Houston Rockets ouster of the postseason in six games against the Golden State Warriors is still in full effect.  Many of us are still in disbelief that this team was not able to stretch this series seven games even with the likes of Kevin Durant being out of the lineup.

But it certainly happened and it certainly looked like the Houston Rockets didn’t have a sense of urgency when the game was on the line.  This team wavered, cowered and just let the Warriors destruct the Houston Rockets‘ 2018-19 season to smithereens.  I obviously wanted more than this and if this team had lost to the Warriors in a close battle in a potential Game 7, then I’d understand.

But this was unacceptable.  Yes, I understand that this team his facing one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.  I definitely have to respect as well as acknowledge that notion but the fact that this team had the ability to go toe-to-toe with them and take them to the brink, makes that Game 6 loss and even tougher pill to swallow.

A huge reason as to why the Houston Rockets fell to the Warriors was their quite painful lapses on the defensive end.  When this team has that switch turned on in addition to them making their shots, they’re unstoppable but the aforementioned lapses occurred more often than not.

Who’s ultimately responsible for this?  Normally it would be on the head coach but because we know that Mike D’Antoni isn’t necessarily accustomed to coaching defense, those responsibilities fall on the shoulders of his assistant coaches, particularly his top assistant Jeff Bzdelik.

According to the Chron’s Jonathan Feigen, the Houston Rockets have decided to part ways with Jeff in what was a peculiar season for him.  He started out the season announcing his retirement, only to have him return as the team as their defense took a nosedive.  When he returned, the defensive issues stabilized but were nowhere near the levels of the 2017-18 season when they were perennially a Top 5 team in that category.

Do you know what I think?  I think Bzdelik, 66, still longed for retirement but he likely was called back up for duty because he abruptly decided to retire about a week before the start of training camp this season.

That’s not enough time for D’Antoni to go out and find an assistant coach so he had to roll with Roy Rogers in an elevated role.  That did not bode well and before you knew it, Jeff was back on the bench.

With Bzdelik having parting ways, the franchise has the lead time that they need to find his replacement to help out D’Antoni.

They might have to go look in the G-League for their replacement or go with a name relatively unknown as the top assistants that would be able to coach defense decently like Becky Hammon, Mike Brown and Jarron Collins should all be candidates for open head coaching jobs.

It will be interesting to see where do the Houston Rockets decide to go with this as they can either

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find a replacement or just delegate those duties to rest of the staff.  I would think that they will be looking for somebody to help on the defensive end.

But regardless of how Bzdelik has gone out, he should be lauded on how the Houston Rockets turned around their defense when D’Antoni took over the reins.

Here’s the Houston Rockets defensive efficiency rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) over Bzdelik’s three seasons on the bench:

2016-17:  106.4 (17th)

2017-18:  103.8 (6th)

2018-19:  107.9 (16th)

The Rockets were 21st in defensive efficiency — 105.6 per 100 — back in 2015-16 so at the very least, Bzdelik was able to stop the bleeding and have these guys be committed more frequently on defense, despite us all still seeing the miscues.

I still appreciate everything that Jeff was able to do with his fiery and spirited demeanor on the sidelines because motivating James Harden to play defense isn’t easy and he was successfully able to do that.

Next. When the Rockets should start thinking about replacing Mike D'Antoni. dark

His career is still storied, as he had the opportunity to coach in just about every level of professional basketball and had some success.  I’m sure many are grateful for his presence as am I.  I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.

Peace out, Notorious B.Z.D.!