Who will it be and when will we know?
Here's why the Rockets should have a new coach by the end of the week
Last week the NBA's board of governors announced that it would be pushing for a December 22 restart and a 72 game season.
If you're a basketball fan, this is great news. If you're a basketball player, it's apparently also great news.
If that gets my summer off season back lol https://t.co/iukbRDdBok
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) October 26, 2020
If you're a basketball franchise without a head coach, however, it may be perceived as a bit of a time crunch.
With 56 days left before the suggested start of the new NBA season, the Houston Rockets have yet to announce a new head coach. If you sort through the tea leaves, however, it's possible that we may already know who and when they'll announce the hire.
The Rockets have reportedly narrowed their search down to former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy, Mavericks assistant Coach Stephen Silas, and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.
Van Gundy comes with proven pedigree as a head coach that has taken a team to the NBA finals, lives in Houston, and left as a fan favorite.
Silas is looked at as more of a potential hire, along the lines of the Celtics when they hired Brad Stevens; unproven as a head coach but widely regarded as capable.
Lucas is currently the player development coach for the Rockets and has been endorsed by James Harden as a potential suitor for the job. Lucas is a good assistant, but currently holds a career head coaching record of 173-258.
So who will the Rockets pick?
Lucas, to me, comes off more as a courtesy interview by the front office to placate Harden. Nothing about his history as a head coach suggests that his hiring would signal a commitment to excellence by the front office. He's off my board.
It's really (hopefully) down to Van Gundy and Silas. With Van Gundy you can point to his previous success, and with Silas you can point to his potential. Both would be easy to sell to a disappointed fan base.
It's in this argument that I find Van Gundy as the more likely option. The front office is facing its first general manager change in 13 years. New GM Rafael Stone was promoted from within, but has never been a GM before. It would make sense then to bring in an established name to pair with a new GM provided Van Gundy is willing to buy into Stone's philosophy.
Another thing to consider is that, between the two, Van Gundy is also the flashy hire. In case you forgot who the Rockets casino-owning owner is, he has a penchant for flashy hires. As the Chairman of the University of Houston System board of regents, he was instrumental in bringing Kelvin Sampson and Dana Holgerson coach the men's basketball and football teams respectively. Both coaches were pulls from Power 5 conferences.
When will we know?
This is the easier question. Former GM Daryl Morey announced his resignation on October 15, right in the middle of the interview process. He did, however, indicate that he would stay on in an advisory role until November 1. There isn't too much to read into beyond that. Why else would Morey stay on other than to help finish the head coach selection process? Stone has been one of Morey's top assistants for some time, so the change of responsibility can continue to be facilitated beyond November 1. It's not like he can't call Morey after Halloween for advice. So my money is on a head coach announcement by the end of the week.
Needless to say there are plenty of questions surrounding the Rockets this offseason. It looks like at least one of those should be answered sooner than later.