3. Rockets don’t have the cache that many thought
The Rockets boast two MVPs in James Harden and Russell Westbrook, which is a fact that should water the mouths of potential coaching candidates, as none of the remaining teams with vacancies can say the same. Westbrook and Harden both made the All-NBA team during the 2019-20 season as well, so it’s not as if they’re former MVP winners who are on the decline.
Russ and Harden are both under contract for two more seasons, and each player has a player option after the 2021-22 season for one final year. The Rockets also hold one of the best GM’s in the league in Daryl Morey, who won the Executive of the Year award during the 2016-17 season and has proven to be willing to do whatever he seems necessary to reel in a player he believes will make the team better.
But in spite of those feats, the Rockets weren’t even able to get an interview with Rivers, despite making it known that they wanted to speak with him. Rivers went directly to Philadelphia and got the head coaching job shortly after leaving town and watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals with the Sixers’ brass.
But why didn’t he take the time to interview with the Rockets? On Friday, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith stated that Rivers was less drawn to the idea of coaching Harden and Westbrook, due to them both being 31-years-old already, which made the idea of coaching Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid more appealing.
Granted, we don’t exactly know Rivers’ thought process, but if this is true, it proves that the Rockets don’t have the same cache around the league that one would think they should have.
A theory exists that former Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni left a not-so-positive mark on the franchise, which certainly could be damaging the luster of the Rockets’ position. It was believed that D’Antoni sacrificed defense for offense, and gave players the green light to essentially play however they wanted to, as opposed to concocting gameplans and strategies for them to adhere to.
The Rockets are constantly facing negative press and publicity throughout the league and in the media, which certainly could turn away a top-tier coach like Rivers, which is further proof that they may not have the same cache that many would have imagined.
Next: No. 2