NBA analyst suggests Ime Udoka may not be interested in Rockets
After a 22-60 season, the Houston Rockets put an end to Stephen Silas' coaching stint, as the franchise announced that they were declining Silas' fourth-year option. Silas originally took the Rockets' job following the 2019-20 season that saw the Rockets get bounced in the second round of the NBA's bubble postseason, during the COVID-shortened season.
Through three years, Silas accumulated a 59-177 record, which surely played a part in the Rockets' decision to put themselves back on the coaching market. The decision was fairly easy for the franchise's brainpower, as they certainly didn't want to retain a coach that had won just 25 percent of his games, during the 2023-24 season in which the team hopes to be contending and playing beyond just the regular season.
The Rockets' coaching search is one that figures to be littered with big name coaching candidates, as the Rockets reportedly have their sights set on former Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse (who has ties to the organization as he formerly coached the Rio Grande Vipers), Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, and former Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka.
Could Ime Udoka turn down the Rockets?
But reeling in a proven, established coach could prove to be a tall order for a team that's been in the dregs of the league for each of the last three seasons. This could especially prove to be problematic as it pertains to enticing Udoka, according to CBS Sports and NBA TV analyst Greg Anthony, who drove the point home during NBA TV's NBA Playoff Preview on Sunday.
"I don't think there's any question that he's the type of personality, because he's a no-nonsense guy, he's gonna tell you the truth, which young players need to hear, and he's gonna basically base your success on your ability to buy-in to what he's trying to teach.
So he's one guy I think would do a really good job. The question is will he want that type of job.
Think about it. You go to the mountaintop. He took a team to the NBA Finals and now you've gotta go, potentially, with all due respect, coach a team that's one of the doormats of our league right now. That's a drop-off.
But it could be a possibility if they could sell him on the vision, I've gotta believe that's someone that they'd be extremely interested in."
Udoka has a hard-nosed coaching style and places a primary emphasis on the defensive end of the floor, two facets that he certainly learned from legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who Udoka served under as an assistant coach for seven seasons. Udoka will surely have his pick of the litter, as it pertains to coaching vacancies this offseason, which could prove to be problematic for the Rockets, and especially if GM Rafael Stone will continue to lurk in the shadows, like he reportedly did during Silas' tenure.
A coach like Udoka, who is coming off an NBA Finals appearance and who will be in high demand, could prove to be a pipe dream for the Rockets. If there are any sell points for the Rockets, it's that they have $61 million in cap space and a shot at generational talent Victor Wembanyama.
We'll see if that'll be enough to sway Udoka.