3 Lessons the Rockets learned from the Doc Rivers saga

Houston Rockets Austin Rivers (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Austin Rivers (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets Daryl Morey (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

2. Rockets must abandon their past operating rhythm

The terms of Rivers’ deal make one thing clear as it pertains to the market for top coaches: they want long-term security. Rivers inked a five-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers, and although the financial terms haven’t been revealed, he was making seven million per year with the Clippers, and it was expected that he would make somewhere between $8-10 million with Philadelphia.

Those terms pose problems for the Rockets, as they’ve only given four-year deals to their most recent coaches, which includes Mike D’Antoni, Rick Adelman, and Jeff Van Gundy. Kevin McHale coached four full seasons as well, as he was terminated within 11 games of the 2015-16 season.

A championship coach is certainly going to want at least five years, as that was also proven during Tyronn Lue’s failed negotiations with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2019 offseason. Lue reportedly wanted at least five years, and the Lakers were only offering three years, which is what caused the talks to break down.

Lue is also one of the Rockets’ targets, and the fact that he wanted a long-term deal could cause the Rockets made brainpower to offer more job security up-front than they’re accustomed to doling out. In addition, Lue is reportedly seeking at least seven million per year, which is in the same ballpark of what Rivers was asking for.

The Rockets have never paid a head coach that much money per year, and with the remaining job vacancies mostly consuming of playoff teams, they’ll have to climb the financial ladder if they want to bring in a championship coach. Former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan recently agreed to terms with the Chicago Bulls, and his asking price was six million annually, and he has yet to make it past the first round of the playoffs in the last four years.

Granted, the Rockets were never interested in Donovan, but even his salary demands were higher than the four million that the Rockets were paying former coach Mike D’Antoni.

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