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Bzdelik's retirement is the biggest blow yet to Rockets defense

Jeff Bzdelik's retirement comes at a bad time for the Rockets. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Jeff Bzdelik is retiring as the top Rockets assistant coach under Mike D'Antoni. With a little less than 10 days before the start of training camp, the timing of this move seems strange. My first thought is to hope this was purely a personal decision made with fumes in the tank and no desire to grind out another year of extensive travel and tape study. You hope there is nothing wrong health-wise with him or his family and pray that he can walk away from a lifetime of basketball completely at peace with his accomplishments.

He has had just about every job within basketball operations and administration. He has scouted in small gyms and broken down tape until the wee hours of the morning. He has been the low man on the totem poll and the top dog as a head coach, on both the professional and collegiate levels. He has always been known as a hard worker that is willing to put in long hours in a thankless profession in which you are only as good as your last game and rarely outlive your last contract. He carved out a niche as a defensive guru and used that reputation along with his long standing relationships within the game to make himself a "lifer" in a sport he has always loved.

Pat Riley said that there is no one in the NBA that has more knowledge, wisdom or experience in defending today's NBA than Jeff Bzdelik. If you have any doubts as to how valuable and how good Jeff Bzdelik is as a defensive coach, look no further than his last coaching job as the "Defensive Cordinator" of the Houston Rockets. Before Mike D'Antoni brought him to H-town as his top assistant, the Rockets were 20th in Defensive efficiency and 21st in defensive rating, as well as being last in the entire league in defensive rebounding rate.

Houston gave up a little under 106 points per game and had little understanding of team defensive concepts, rotations, rebounds or helping the helper when the ball was in thier opponents hands. In his first year at the helm as the Rockets Secretary of Defense, he got them to climb to 16th in the NBA in defensive rating and this past year they had soared all the way to 6th.

Taking it a step further, over the last two months of the schedule they were the third best team defensively in the entire NBA and thier defensive rebounding had sky rocketed into the top 5, sitting firmly at number 3. The team was a top 2 offense and a top 6 defense and that was enough to set the franchise record for regular season wins with 65 victories. If Chris Paul doesn't pull a hamstring, we all know the Rockets very well could've been sitting on fire trucks, cruising towards city hall, while hoising the Larry O'Brien trophy. As good as Mike D'Antoni has been in leading this team, they would be nowhere near the unit they were without the defensive mind of Bzdelik.

Looking forward, the question now becomes, who will the Rockets get to replace him? After all, this was a guy that has a great rapport with all his players including new addition Carmelo Anthony, as Bzdelik was his first NBA head coach while the two of them were in Denver. He got the team to buy in to what he was selling and sell out to achieve the results they needed to get stops on a consistent basis. On top of needing to be a good communicator and someone that can be trusted, whoever succeeds him has to put the time in necessary to get the roster to respect them and listen to them on a daily basis. All of that takes time and time is not on the Rockets side.

We all know this team can score points with the best of them and D'Antoni has total control of the offense. Coaching defense in the NBA is a lost art and there are very few coaches that have the resume or are as highly respected as Jeff Bzdelik and what he did with Houston. Considering the fact that most of the good coaches that fit the bill and have similar skill sets already have jobs this close to the start of training camps opening in the NBA, Houston could be hard pressed to find a suitable replacement.

After losing 2 of their 5 best defenders this off season and not replacing either Trevor Ariza or Luc Mbah a Moute with anyone close to their ability to get stops, you thought it couldn't get any worse for a team that desperately needs to prevent their opponents from attacking the rim and getting wide open shots. Who knew the biggest blow to their defense was yet to come? Let's hope D'Antoni and Daryl Morey have a good list of unemployed coaches that can step in late in the game and provide the defensive master mind the team desperately needs, because you wanted Bzdelik on that ball, you needed him on it, and now he is gone.

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It's all about Deshaun. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans moved to 3-7 following their 27-20 win over the Patriots. They are still without a permanent head coach and general manager. There lies the problem, and those problems will be settled this upcoming offseason. The new general manager and head coach will steer this franchise in the direction it needs to go in. Undoubtedly, Deshaun Watson will be at the forefront of what they do. How can he not be? You don't take a job like this with a quarterback like him and not consider him the centerpiece. What else would make one take either of those jobs? The salary cap hell the team is facing? The lack of draft picks coming off a terrible year? The faith ownership has placed in the NFL's version of Littlefinger?

Watson is the lone attraction to the flaming dumpster fire Cal McNair allowed to occur on his watch. If he's not careful, it could get worse and he'll find it hard to recover from. Watson signed an extension that'll keep him in Houston for another four years. He'll still be in his prime (barring any serious, career-threatening injury), and be eligible to hit the market as a free agent before he turns 30. So who do the Texans hire as head coach that can get the most out of Watson? Who can convince him to stay and re-sign after his extension is up?

The main cast of characters will most likely take better jobs. The Jets job is more attractive because of the cap space and draft picks. If the Falcons job opens up, so is it because of Matt Ryan and that offense. What coach/coaches would be interested in taking on this job that would be viable candidates given that the best of the best would take other jobs? Jayson Braddock and I tackled this topic not too long ago on Late Hits. Here are a few guys off the beaten path we felt were contenders:

Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator: Daboll is a guy who, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, is openly campaigning for this job. The work he's done with Josh Allen has been remarkable. Allen has gone from a raw prospect with all the physical tools to an MVP candidate. Who wouldn't want a guy like that in Watson's ear guiding him over the foreseeable future?

Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator: Roman has done wonders for Colin Kaepernick and Lamar Jackson. He helped Kaepernick reach a Super Bowl with the 49ers and turned Jackson into last season's league MVP. Given his history with athletic quarterbacks, he should be a natural fit and given full consideration.

Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Here's where it gets interesting. Elliott has been the OC (or co-OC) at Clemson since 2015. He has an established relationship with Watson and a proven track record as a coordinator of high-powered offenses in college. He's the type of hire that won't cost as much as some big names will, but might be able to provide the same spark.

Note that all three of these guys are offensive coaches. I fully understand that the defense is an issue and needs help desperately. I also understand that the previous two coaches were offensive guys as well. But Watson is your franchise quarterback and the most attractive piece in a pile of flaming dung that resides on Kirby. If anyone is going to take this job, it'll be because of number four. I know these aren't the sexy names most folks would want to hear, but these names are more realistic as candidates. None of them has head coaching experience. That fact cheapens their price tag and lends itself to them being long shots. A lot of this depends on the general manager hire. We'll get into that in another articel. For right now, dwell on this and let me know what you think.

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