After spending two decades in the wings as an assistant coach, Stephen Silas landed the Houston Rockets' gig in 2020. Silas had been the offensive coordinator for the Dallas Mavericks in his previous stop and pioneered the Mavs to the best offense in league history, at the time.
Silas ended up spearheading the Rockets' rebuild, helping the team achieve it's goal of reloading and restocking the talent on their roster. After going 17-55, the Rockets landed the second pick, which was used on scoring sensation Jalen Green, who averaged 22 points in 2022-23.
The Rockets landed the third pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, which was used on Jabari Smith Jr. from Auburn. Smith Jr. became the first rookie in NBA history to have 1000 points, 500 rebounds, 50 blocks, and 100 3-pointers, leaving Rockets fans salivating at what his future could entail.
Did Stephen Silas get a fair shake with Rockets?
But Silas was given the ax after Sunday's regular-season finale, which ended in victory over the Washington Wizards. Following the news of Silas's looming exit, the question was raised regarding whether Silas was given a fair shake, considering the stakes he was up against.
Rockets insider Kelly Iko of The Athletic answered with a resounding no, on NBC Houston’s Sports Sunday.
"I would say no. I would say no. In terms of when he signed up for this job, he thought he was coming to a team that had older, experienced guys.
And he didn't end up getting that. And as a coach, you have to be able to adapt to your players. And for three years, Stephen wasn't able to adapt adequately enough to his players."
Silas sought an opportunity to coach two former MVPs in James Harden and Russell Westbrook when he took the job, a duo that combined for 61.5 points, 14.5 assists, and 14.5 rebounds in 2019-20, while spearheading the small ball Rockets to the fourth seed in the Western Conference. But the Rockets dealt Harden and Westbrook and Silas reportedly reached an inability to connect with a younger roster.
Silas was also unable to make a compelling case for the Rockets' brass to pick up his fourth-year option for 2023-24, a season in which they hope to make drastic improvements on the hardwood. Following the Harden and Westbrook trades, Silas stated that he would've still accepted the job, even if he had known his All-NBA backcourt would no longer be in the fold.
Silas figures to get another shot at the helm in the future, as he's relatively young for an NBA coach at just 49-years-old. In the meantime, he'll have his pick of the litter for assistant jobs around the league.