The Houston Rockets could use championship experience to get them where they need to be, and several former Rockets would thrive in staff roles.
The 2020 NBA offseason will be filled with uncertainty for several teams, most notably in the coaching department. From the 76ers and Pacers in the Eastern Conference to the Pelicans and Houston Rockets in the West, several new faces will be on the sidelines to take over contending teams next year.
Considering the team’s expectations and talent, the Rockets will certainly be diligent in searching for a new head coach. With the strong personalities and superstar power of James Harden and Russell Westbrook, the perfect candidate will need to handle the duo while also running the team with a similar style to Mike D’Antoni.
There’s an abundance of highly-qualified coaches ready to get their next opportunity in H-Town, with names like Tyronn Lue and Jeff Van Gundy making the rounds. In the interest of boosting the team with championship experience (but mostly just to have some fun), I put it upon myself to find five former Clutch City Rockets that would fit in well with the current team in different roles.
I’ll start with a couple of assistant coach options, beginning with a man who has some experience in that area.
1. Mario Elie – Houston Rockets Assistant Coach
A three-time NBA champion as a player, Mario Elie has also coached at the assistant level for six different teams. While his latest coaching gig with Orlando ended at the end of the 2016 season, he could be ready to get back into the coaching game, according to his former teammate, Matt Bullard.
“Sam [Cassell] is ready to be a head coach. Mario is ready to come back to coaching. Let’s make it happen!” Bullard told us on Twitter. Elie has spent time serving as an assistant coach on several successful franchises, including the San Antonio Spurs (2003-04), Golden State Warriors (2004-06), and Dallas Mavericks (2007-09).
In his playing days in Houston, Elie was a bulldog in the similar vein of his former teammate, Vernon Maxwell, and current Rockets Russell Westbrook and P.J. Tucker. His tough-nosed nature and heart for the game could do wonders for the team’s morale when things might be looking rough.
Next: No. 2