When the Houston Rockets were undergoing their search for the 15th coach in franchise history, it was clear that the front office was going to take its time to make sure the Rockets made the right hire. The Rockets’ coaching search took six weeks, and there were several former NBA players that were on their list.
From Doc Rivers to Ty Lue, the Rockets took shots at some of the biggest names on the market, and understandably so, as both former players-turned-coaches have each won championships while roaming the sidelines. Many within the Rockets fanbase were hoping for former Rockets guard Sam Cassell, as he won championships with the franchise and has also been coaching at the NBA level for over a decade and is a young, energetic coach that would have also been a fit for a franchise in need of a culture change.
As we know, the Rockets ultimately hired Stephen Silas, in a race that came down to he, former Houston Rockets guard John Lucas, and Jeff Van Gundy. Although Silas isn’t a former player, he certainly paid his dues, having operated as a scout and an assistant coach for several decades.
Former NBA executive lauds Stephen Silas’s path to becoming the head coach of the Houston Rockets
On Sunday, Sirius XM’s Amin Elhassan, who previously worked in the Phoenix Suns’ front office, explained why Silas’s path and journey to the sidelines deserves praise, on Sirius XM’s NBA Insiders.
“We always hear ‘if you’re black you better have a good jumpshot.’ Even though the position doesn’t require that at all.
So whenever I look at a Stephen Silas or a Jamahl Mosley, I’m looking at [exceptions].
We have a love and a joy for this sport and we’re going to find a way to work in this business and be good at our jobs, based on what we were doing currently, not based on a playing career that people might remember from years earlier.”
Both Silas and the recently hired Mosley, who Elhassan mentioned, were prior assistant coaches under Rick Carlisle, who is also a former player. Silas was one of the finalists for the head coaching position with the Rockets in 2016, but was beat out by Mike D’Antoni, who also briefly played in the NBA.
All in all, the Rockets’ coaching history is a great example of Elhassan’s point about the difficulties of getting a head coaching opportunity without being a former player, as the Rockets had Hall of Fame forward Kevin McHale as their head coach for five seasons, and were led to back-to-back championships by recently inducted Hall of Famer Rudy Tomjanovich, who had a 11-year NBA career himself, in which he made 5 All-Star teams.
Silas’s journey to becoming a NBA head coach should serve as inspiration, both to minority coaching candidates and to those who never played professionally.