Why Jeff Van Gundy turned down the Rockets’ coaching job

Head coach Jeff Van Gundy of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Head coach Jeff Van Gundy of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images) /

Although Jeff Van Gundy was mentioned as a finalist for the Houston Rockets’ head coaching gig, he ultimately decided to turn down the opportunity.

Before the Houston Rockets began their search for a head coach, it had been rumored that they had their sights set on Jeff Van Gundy, who previously spent four seasons at the helm as the head coach of the franchise. Van Gundy posted a 182-146 record with the Rockets, as he coached former Rockets All-Stars Steve Francis, Tracy McGrady, and Yao Ming.

Van Gundy has spent the past 13 years in the broadcasting booth for ESPN, where he’s become a favorite for many, due to his sense of humor and his relatable personality. Van Gundy had been mentioned as one of three finalists for the Rockets’ vacancy, joining former Mike D’Antoni assistant coach John Lucas, and Stephen Silas, who ultimately landed the job.

Many wondered why Van Gundy didn’t get an offer from the Rockets, and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle joined Texas Sports Nation on Sunday night to open up on why a deal wasn’t reached with the former coach.

Why Jeff Van Gundy rejected the Houston Rockets’ overtures

“Jeff always said that he would return to coaching, if the situation was right. The ownership, management, GM, all of that. It became more uncertain here: an owner he didn’t work with, Tilman Fertitta bought the team 12 years after Jeff, and then Daryl Morey, he liked the idea of working with Daryl, and Daryl left.

When Rafael Stone was here with Jeff, Rafael was over in the legal department, he wasn’t in the basketball operations. So they never really worked together. I don’t think it was anything negative, but it didn’t have the feeling of that really good fit that he has looked for, that he has said would bring him back to coaching.”

It goes without saying that Feigen is one of the most qualified Rockets sources that exists, if not the most qualified source. Feigen stated that former Rockets GM Daryl Morey departing from the franchise made Van Gundy question whether the situation was what he envisioned as a reason for leaving the broadcasting booth, as the consistency that made them attractive no longer existed.

The Rockets promoted Rafael Stone upon news of Morey’s departure, who had no prior working experience with Van Gundy. It’s understandable why Van Gundy may have lost interest in the job, and considering his track record, it seems almost certain that he’ll land another coaching opportunity, if he pursues one.

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But in the meantime, we’ll continue to enjoy hearing he and former Houston Rockets guard Mark Jackson on ESPN’s NBA broadcasts.