Rockets: What’s going on with Mike D’Antoni and coaching role?

Daryl Morey Tilman Fertitta Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Daryl Morey Tilman Fertitta Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets Jeff Van Gundy (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Coaches linked to Rockets

If there’s anything to be determined by the speculation, if there is in fact a change, it’s that the Rockets certainly are locked in on a defensive-minded coach. This makes sense considering how former defensive coach Jeff Bzdelik left his mark on the franchise in each of the last two seasons.

As long as the Rockets have James Harden and Russell Westbrook on the floor, along with an analytical offensive approach that’s predicated on efficiency and taking high percentage shots, they’ll be fine on the offensive end. Where they’ll need to significantly improve is on the defensive end, which is where they struggled this season, to tune of tune of giving up 114.4 points per game.

The first reports that surfaced regarding the Rockets’ plans involve Tom Thibodeau, who is certainly known for his defensive tenacity. But Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets are also interested in Thibs, and with them both being in much larger media markets, they would seem to be the most likely to pay him more than the Houston Rockets possibly would.

Sam Amick of The Athletic shared reason for caution as it pertains to Thibodeau, specifically when considering the market in which the reports are coming out of. Amick said, “There is a disproportionate level of support for Tom Thibodeau that comes out of the New York media, so you sometimes have to wonder where the talking points are coming from.”

In this case, the report came from the New York Post, so could that mean the Rockets are being mentioned to make the Knicks or the Nets move quickly? For what it’s worth, Thibodeau joined ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday to downplay the rumors, stating that it was all speculation. The former Houston Rockets assistant also stated that none of the reports were true, which is what we would expect him to say considering how he’s the belle of the ball.

Another name that’s been mentioned by Amick has been Jeff Van Gundy, who had Thibodeau on his staff during his stint in Houston. Van Gundy is also a defensive-minded coach, but his offenses didn’t necessarily excel, as the Rockets were a bottom 10 offense in three of his four seasons in Houston.

It’s interesting that the Rockets would be pursing both coaches who are cut from the same cloth, but it’s possible they’re pursuing both because they know Thibs is in such high demand. If there was a downside to JVG, it’s that he hasn’t coached at the NBA level since his contract with the Houston Rockets expired in 2007, which could possibly make him more financially attainable for the Rockets.

Next: Not ready to move on?