After spending 21 seasons as an assistant coach with four different teams, Stephen Silas was about as prepared as one could be for the Houston Rockets' head coaching opportunity. Silas had coached star players, such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kemba Walker, and Luka Doncic, while also earning the reputation as a developmental specialist.
The Rockets' roster would undergo a major transformation within Silas's first several months on the job, with superstars Russell Westbrook and James Harden both being shipped out. Although the Rockets finished with a 17-55 record, there were several positives, such as the level of play that the Rockets got from Jae'Sean Tate, who played better than anyone could have anticipated.
In addition, Christian Wood played at a fringe All-Star level, while John Wall flashed the pre-injury version of himself. In the offseason, the Rockets cemented their youth movement with the roster additions they made, including Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba. and Josh Christopher, who are all 19-year-olds that were acquired in the 2021 NBA Draft.
With year one in the books for Silas, the 2021-22 season will surely present different challenges than the ones that Silas dealt with in 2020-21.
Jeff Van Gundy lists challenges in store for Stephen Silas in second year as Houston Rockets coach
Former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, who spent a total of 18 years in the NBA coaching ranks (11 as a head coach and 7 as an assistant), cited the challenges that SIlas could face in his second season on the sidelines, during Tuesday's appearance on The Wheelhouse with Jake Asman, Cody Stoots, & Brad Kellner on ESPN 97.5 Houston.
"This is as fine a person as you could want to lead your basketball team. He won't be discouraged by last year's results, he's going to continue to plug away.
HIs challenge is to try to blend the veterans they have with the young players and to try to form a bond between those two groups that allows them to achieve as much as they can achieve, as much as their talent allows them.
It's hard to coach teams on different timelines. Eric Gordon doesn't wanna wait 3 or 4 years. He wants to be good this year, he wants to be valued this year.
He doesn't wanna be diminished and play behind younger players. Stephen has a tremendous challenge ahead of him but I think he's the perfect personality to draw the best out of all these players. The Rockets truly are in good hands with Stephen Silas."
Although Van Gundy mentioned Eric Gordon as someone who may not be fully on-board with a rebuild, John Wall could be in the same boat, as Wall was once one of the top players in the league and is used to making deep playoff runs, which the Rockets aren't expected to do this season.
In addition, Wall will certainly not want a reduction in playing time, as he could be eyeing an opportunity to get his value back up so he can be moved to a contender. This could also present a challenge, as the Rockets moved Kevin Porter Jr. to point guard in 2020-21, and surely want him to get the necessary reps to learn the position.
The good thing is that Van Gundy, who stated that he had known Silas since Silas was in high school, expressed full confidence about Silas being the right man for the Rockets' state of affairs.