The Houston Rockets have decided to fire associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik, whose future with the team was uncertain after the end of the season.
According to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen, the Rockets decided to let go of associate head coach and defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik on Saturday.
In the 2017-18 season, coach Jeff Bzdelik orchestrated an elite defense that helped the Houston Rockets win a franchise record 65 games. The Rockets ranked seventh in the league in defensive rating.
With head coach and offensive genius Mike D’Antoni designing Houston’s offense, the Rockets needed a defensive minded coach on the bench to help Houston execute well enough to get crucial stops, and Bzdelik was the guy for the job.
Bzdelik previously retired from the league last September before signing another contract with Houston on Nov. 5, 2018 and rejoining the team on the sidelines a few weeks later.
Houston got off to a very slow start defensively in the 2018-19 season. They had the seventh worst defensive rating in the NBA and were giving up the fifth most points in the paint. Losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute last offseason definitely hurt Houston’s defense, but the absence of Bzdelik was also clear in Houston’s defensive scheme.
Houston’s defense improved drastically after Jan 1, as they had the 10th best defensive rating in the league after Bzdelik was able to work his magic.
Houston’s early exit in the second round was disappointing, especially for a team with championship aspirations. However, the Rockets likely didn’t part ways with Bzdelik due to any errors as a coach.
Bzdelik didn’t commit to returning to Houston for another season. Since the coach is 66 years old and could retire for good in the near future, the Rockets probably thought it would be better to let go of him now in order to interview qualified replacements while they’re still available.