The Houston Rockets’ list of potential head coaches shortens as Tom Thibodeau finalizes a five-year deal to become president and coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With Tom Thibodeau finalizing a five-year deal to become the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach, the Houston Rockets’ search for potential coaching candidates for next season has narrowed.
Thibodeau being out of the picture for the Rockets, two serious candidates remain– Jeff Van Gundy and Scotty Brooks. Both former head coaches have serious history with the Rockets orginization.
Before he became the opinionated ESPN analyst we know him as today, Van Gundy served as the Rockets head coach from 2003-2007, leading the team to the playoffs three out of four years, but never making it out of the first round.
Before that, Van Gundy coached the New York Knicks from 1996 to 2001, leading the Knicks to six playoffs appearances, including a run to the 1999 NBA finals where they lost to the Spurs.
Despite there being reports that Van Gundy is at the top of the Rockets’ list, there are also rumors that the relationship between Van Gundy and Rockets owner Leslie Alexander is far from ideal. If that is in fact the case, it seems less likely that Van Gundy will return to Houton.
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The other co-candidate, former Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scotty Brooks, also has an extensive history with the Rockets orginization. Besides being Rockets superstar James Harden’s first NBA head coach, Brooks also spent time as a player for the Rockets, most notably as a member of the 1993-94 championship team.
Brooks led the Thunder to the playoffs five out of the six seasons he spent as head coach, including a NBA finals appearance in 2012. Brooks also won NBA coach of the year in 2009-2010.
Though he has been successful, what’s discussed most about Brooks in regards to becoming Houston’s head coach is his ability to potentially draw Durant to the Rockets during free agency this summer. While it would be great if Brooks were able to accomplish such a task, it’s hard for me to believe that Brooks is a selling point for Durant. I get the feeling that if that were the case, Brooks would still be the head coach of the Thunder.
With Tom Thibodeau nearing final agreement on a Minnesota deal, Jeff Van Gundy remains Houston's top co-candidate alongside Scotty Brooks.
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 20, 2016
At this point, it’s not extremely clear which of the Rockets remaining candidates the team has the strongest desire for. Who knows, there may even be serious candidates that have yet to be mentioned.
All things considered, with the Rockets likely to get swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors, it is just about a sure thing that a new head coach is on his way. As someone who has never been a fan of the Kevin McHale coaching staff, there’s only a couple games left until I am able to let out a sigh of relief.
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