Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni still does not have a contract extension. Let’s take a look as to why this issue must be put to bed quickly.
The Houston Rockets are primed for another eventful season as general manager Daryl Morey is stacking the deck to ensure this team remains in the conversation to be a contender. They are certainly a Top 5 team in the Western Conference — possibly even higher — especially with the trade that shipped away Chris Paul and brought Russell Westbrook within Houston city limits.
They’ve also re-signed bench mainstays Austin Rivers, Danuel House and Gerald Green to provide some sort of continuity. They were also able to nab veteran center Tyson Chandler for a one-year deal as a viable backup to Clint Capela.
Chandler still has a little bit left in the gas tank and he will be tremendous lift off the bench for the Houston Rockets.
Improving the bench certainly is a capstone for the Houston Rockets offseason strategy but they have to do it carefully as they’re in salary cap hell and must make prudent decisions that aren’t punitive to the bottom line.
I know that Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that he’s willing to pony up the capital to ensure this team has what it needs to win but the bottom line is just as important and I’m sure he’s given the directive to Morey to not impact it in a negative way.
But as the roster has started to finally fill out, there’s one uncertainty about it that is of notable concern.
What could that be?
D’Antoni is going into the final season of the four-year deal that he signed with the team and although this team has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, just being two seasons removed from coaching a 65-win team, the best mark in franchise history, his future seems to be in doubt with the team.
Talks were ongoing earlier this spring after the season was over but they stalled as the Houston Rockets — Fertitta specifically — wanted the 68-year-old’s extension to be heavily incentive-based. The terms weren’t agreeable to Mike so the team is still at a stalemate on a potential deal.
Warren LeGarie, D’Antoni’s agent, made a recent appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio and said this:
"“It’s not even something we’re considering right now,” LeGarie said of an extension. “We have a contract.”"
So that said stalemate will continue for the foreseeable future…
This type of stance by the Houston Rockets is unprecedented for a coach that has the experience and history that D’Antoni has in the Association. I could understand if this was some wet-behind-the-ears phenom feeling his way through but this man just won Coach of the Year just two seasons ago.
His system involving a platoon of players raining down three-pointers as if they are going out style isn’t perfect but it has been fun to watch during his tenure here. I heralded Mike because this team finally had a system to follow and not the free-lance type offense that Kevin McHale was known for when he was here.
Sometimes I wonder what exactly McHale used that whiteboard for other than to draw some really cool stick figures.
We know he isn’t going to coach defense but he’s brought in top talent to help this team not only meet but exceed that objective. Jeff Bzdelik worked wonders for this defense and for the first time in a while, James Harden was motivated to do so in elongated stretches.
Although the team has decided to move on from Bzdelik, his contributions won’t be forgotten.
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But the team was successful in landing former Houston Rockets’ assistant Elston Turner, who will be the team’s top assistant and will be in charge of coaching the team’s defensive tactics.
So here’s the deal — if the Houston Rockets are not going to retain D’Antoni after the season, they need to start looking for replacements soon and be ready to pull the trigger when that happens.
I honestly think that they should offer him a fair pact because he has a knack of knowing how to relate to today’s players. He’s tough, he’s a disciplinarian but his rules of engagement with his guys aren’t to the levels of Draconion-style.
Professionals love working under D’Antoni and he should be rewarded as such if this man wants to continue to keep on coaching. Under his tutelage, this team has reached heights not achieved since the back-to-back championship seasons in 1993-95.
The Houston Rockets need to put this to bed quickly because if I had a choice over D’Antoni versus a snot-nosed, zit-faced rookie head coach, I’m choosing D’Antoni every time.
And that’s the bottom line — go Houston Rockets!
D’Antoni has coached the Houston Rockets to a 173-73 (.703) record, including 23-16 in the postseason (.589) over the past three seasons.