Will the Rockets’ small-ball success land D’Antoni an extension?

Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets Mike D’Antoni (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

With the success of the new micro ball strategy, the question has to be asked if this is enough for Mike D’Antoni to keep his job.

The fact that we’re even asking this question goes to show the success of the small-ball strategy, as we’d heard how the Rockets were expected to part with MDA after this season when his contract expires.

But it’s easy to question whether the early success of the Pocket Rockets will earn MDA an extension because he found a way to do what many thought was impossible: successfully pair Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

Westbrook is having a career year of sorts, as he’s currently riding a 28-game streak of 20-plus points, which is a career-best for the Brodie, and the Rockets have gone 19-9 during Russ’s streak.

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Ultimately the small-ball strategy will only be labeled a success if the Rockets win the title, but we’ve seen some of the best teams in the league struggle to stop it, which has to be attributed to D’Antoni finding yet another way to innovate the Rockets’ offense.

This has to certainly have drawn favor from Rockets Owner Tilman Fertitta and General Manager Daryl Morey, as they were iffy on MDA heading into the season.

But at this point, it’s not ideal to shift gears to another head coach, as that would give James Harden his fourth coach during his Rockets’ tenure.

It’s also not a sure thing that replacing MDA will yield a better coach or a better product on the floor. We also have to understand that the biggest failure of his Rockets career has been his inability to get past the super team Golden State Warriors, but it ultimately took injuries to slow them down. So from that standpoint, he’s been successful as the Rockets coach, in spite of his flaws.

At the end of the day, the Rockets’ latest schematic change has proven to be difficult to stop or slow down, and D’Antoni implemented it to get the most out of Russell Westbrook. Since this has been effective, does it really make sense to start all over with an entirely new approach next season? Because that’s exactly what the Houston Rockets would be doing by letting his contract expire at the end of the season.

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The Rockets have also built their personnel to fit MDA’s desired style, which is another sign of going all in. It would be immensely difficult for a new coach to step in and do anything different based on the construction of the roster. If that’s the case, again, why make a coaching change if there will be a similar strategy anyway?