In the worst kept secret in Houston Rockets history the team finally announced Mike D’Antoni as their new Head Coach.
Owner Leslie Alexander got in to the thick of things right from the get saying
“We are thrilled to add a coach of Mike’s caliber and experience. Mike’s ingenuity laid the groundwork for what drives success in today’s NBA and we are confident in his ability to help reignite our pursuit of a championship.”
For the Houston Rockets full press release visit Rockets.com
Alexander also said only 3 coaches other than D’Antoni have won 60 games twice (Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers and Steve Kerr). Alexander says today’s NBA top teams use speed and ball movement to win.
He also noted during the press conference he felt both the team and James Harden took unnecessary criticism from the media this season. He said the Rockets have the third best record in the past 10 seasons.
General Manager Daryl Morey noted the franchise wanted to make a smooth transition via an experienced coach as their goal is to compete for and win the title every year.
— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) June 1, 2016
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo’s The Vertical reports D’Antoni was hired for 4 years at $16M or $4M annually.
". The Rockets plan to build a veteran staff around D’Antoni, which likely will include Memphis Grizzlies defensive coordinator Jeff Bzdelik and Washington Wizards assistant Roy Rogers, league sources said. Toronto Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian, whom Harden is fond of from his Oklahoma City days, is another possible assistant, sources said"
Other top line questions asked and answered were:
Rockets issues on defense:
D’Antoni addressed the fact that he isn’t known as a defensive coach by consistently and frequently referring to players tend to play better defensively when they are happy offensively and take ownership of their roles.
He also cited the hiring of Jeff Bzdelik as the lead defensive coach. Bzdelik spent last season with the Memphis Grizzlies and 7 years under Pat Riley. So, for those who were concerned about the Rockets addressing the defensive end of the court this assistant coach hiring is exciting given Bzdelik’s experience.
D’Antoni also noted Roy Rogers will join as a players coach having spent time in Washington and Brooklyn and one would presume he’ll handle player development. As per the Woj’s article in my opinion Rex Kalamian will remain in Toronto and if anything would only leave there to join Scott Brooks in Washington (the coach he worked with in Oklahoma City).
— SportsTalk 790 (@SportsTalk790) June 1, 2016
Harden Love: repeatedly D’Antoni referred to Jame Harden throughout the press conference though a certain big man was ignored until he was directly asked about Howard. As per the Harden love here is one of his exact quotes:
“I just think it’s a unique opportunity to be able to coach one of the best players in the game and I’ve had the privilege to coach James with USA basketball. The one thing I did find was that he’s very articulate, very smart, and he wants to win, and is always prepared. That’s all you can ask for super star like him and one of the best in the league.”
D’Antoni then went on to say that’s not that our roster isn’t good, there are some very good players out there, I’m looking forward to (working with) all of them. D’Antoni said the mantra is for his players to all have career years. Specifically, he cites Trevor Ariza, Patrick Beverley, says he expects to work closely with Clint Capela and indicates he sees big things from him (READ: bye bye Dwight) also notes Brewer and Motiejunas. Conspicuously absent from his player comments was Dwight Howard who the coach was rumored to have issues with in Los Angeles.
Asked: What did he learn from other stops:
He joked he should have stayed with Suns and kept Steve Nash. He says he felt the most important thing is having everyone on the same page.
In Phoenix I got lucky because everyone wanted to play at the high pace and despite taking a lot of heat for playing so fast the fact the team started 31-4 helped his cause.
OFFICIAL: #Rockets name Mike D’Antoni as Head Coach.
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) June 1, 2016
What are his thoughts on Dwight Howard?
He cited Howard being one of the best players, but that the team will play a certain way – and hopefully Howard wants to play that way. Let’s be honest, the writing is on the wall for Howard to leave.
How team will play:
D’Antoni said he always found when a team is comfortable and happy with how they play offensively the players tend to be more invested on the defensive end.
— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) June 2, 2016
Has he spoken to team?
D’Antoni has talked to everyone on the roster who is in the country and plans to have personal visits with everyone to get their buy-in, learn what their feelings were from the previous season and to address chemistry issues.
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What made job most attractive: Great place to live and most attractive thing is star player with great players around him. (Notice he said star player NOT star players).
Asked what is the difference with L.A. and Kobe:
D’Antoni shrugged this off by saying everything is different and he has learned from the experience. He used every opportunity possible to wax poetic about James Harden and how he intends to help him/the team have a career year.
Asked about iso ball and the ball sticking issues of last season:
D’Antoni feels with tweaks to the offense and establishing strong roles for the players and via getting them to accept their roles will help.
Check back as I will update the specific questions and answers once the conference is available to review.
Make sure you check out the current Space City Scoop series including our year end player analysis, draft prospects worthy of Rockets picking or trading for, our best of reader/fan posts and our end of season Rockets Round Table:
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