Would Mike D’Antoni joining the Sixers benefit the Rockets?

Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Mike D'Antoni (Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

With rumors swirling that former Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni could be headed to the Philadelphia 76ers, would the Rockets benefit from such a move?

Mike D’Antoni had a successful four-year run with the Houston Rockets, as he ended as the winningest coach in franchise history. D’Antoni abruptly decided to part ways with the Rockets after their season-ending Game 5 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, leaving him and the Rockets each looking for a replacement.

D’Antoni’s market has been heating up, as we’ve heard about him being connected to the Indiana Pacers job and the Philadelphia 76ers. The latest reports suggest that the Sixers believe they’re in the driver’s seat for D’Antoni’s services, which could be a positive for the Rockets, and especially as it pertains to them trading away some of their assets.

D’Antoni was a big proponent of Eric Gordon, so much that he insisted on starting Gordon when he clearly wasn’t fully healthy this past season. Gordon could be the key to the Rockets being able to acquire a significant piece, as he carries a price tag of $16.8 million next season, which is the first season his max contract extension kicks in.

D’Antoni also was a favorite of P.J. Tucker, who is in the final season of his contract, which will expire after he turns 36-years-old. The Rockets could package Tucker, Gordon, and Danuel House, which would yield an outgoing salary of $28.4 million, which would be enough to land Joel Embiid from a financial standpoint.

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Although it may seem like a pipe dream, there have been reports that the Sixers are preparing to trade all of their bigs, in the event that they hire D’Antoni. Embiid has been to just three postseasons with the Sixers and they’ve never reached the Eastern Conference Finals. To make matters worse, the Sixers are going backwards, as they were just swept in the first round during the 2020 playoffs.

The Rockets would likely have to find a third team to take on House’s contract, as D’Antoni made it clear that he didn’t believe in House’s abilities on numerous occasions. Such a move would allow the Rockets to pair James Harden and Russell Westbrook with a two-time All-NBA performer and a two-time All-Defensive team selection.

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In addition, Embiid just inked a contract extension and is under contract through the 2022-23 season, which is three more seasons. Sure, the Sixers may not want to part with Embiid and they could surely find a better trade package than such a trade proposal from the Houston Rockets, but Mike D’Antoni’s familiarity and comfort with Gordon and Tucker could make all the difference for the Rockets.