Why the Rockets must pass on Jeff Van Gundy
By Lachard Binkley
The Jon Gruden effect with Van Gundy
After a long coaching career, Jon Gruden decided to leave the NFL sidelines to go to the broadcasting booth in 2008. Ten years later, the Oakland Raiders gave him a deal he couldn’t refuse, as he was inked to a 10-year deal worth $100 million.
The first couple of years were a struggle for Gruden, as had trouble adjusting to the new NFL, which was to be expected.
Like Gruden, Van Gundy may face the same problem, as he hasn’t coached since 2007. The NBA is a totally different league now, as the league was still centered around big men during Van Gundy’s tenure as head coach.
The top team in 3-point attempts was the Golden State Warriors at the time, as they averaged 24 threes per game. If we fast forward to 2019-20, the Rockets almost doubled that amount with over 45 attempts from deep per game.
Van Gundy had great big men like Patrick Ewing and Yao Ming to build his offense around, but the Rockets have now transitioned to a guard-oriented offense. The Rockets’ championship window is two to three years at best, so do they really have time to wait for a coach to adjust to the modern game?
Although Van Gundy is a good head coach, this isn’t the right situation for him. Van Gundy would thrive better with a young team that he can build and grow with, like the Indiana Pacers, who aren’t looking to win a championship in the next year or two.
As stated earlier, the Rockets’ years as a contender with Harden and Westbrook are winding down, so the next head coach will have to immediately bring a modern-day gameplan to a veteran team.
With the Rockets’ title aspirations and short window of peak Harden and Westbrook, they should give Van Gundy a hard pass.