When the Houston Rockets’ coaching search was underway in 2020, they appeared to have one of the best openings across the league. The Rockets were coming off their eight consecutive postseason appearance, which was the longest active streak at the time, and finished with the fourth-best record in the Western Conference in the previous season.
The Rockets also had an MVP finalist in James Harden and a former MVP winner in Russell Westbrook, who were both All-NBA selections and All-Stars in 2019-20. The Rockets had an extensive coaching search, which involved Tyronn Lue, Doc Rivers, Jeff Van Gundy, John Lucas, and Stephen Silas.
The Rockets ultimately hired Silas, who was a finalist for the vacancy when the team hired D’Antoni in 2016. Silas expressed his excitement and eagerness to get on the court with Harden and Westbrook during his introductory press conference, citing the uniqueness of each player’s game.
However, Silas’s first foray into head coaching went much differently than he could have imagined, as both Harden and Westbrook demanded trades shortly after he was hired. The Rockets won just 23.6% of their games, which was their lowest winning percentage since 1982-83, in which they won 17.1% of their games and posted a 14-68 record.
Stephen Silas opens up on challenging first season with Houston Rockets
Silas joined Sirius XM’s NBA radio to open up on how his first season went.
“It wasn’t real easy. It started off as a press conference where there was a lot of excitement about the future and James and Russ and ended up with games where I had 7 guys.
And trying to pull guys up from the G-League and young kids who are just trying to make it, but we made it through. And we ended on a positive note.
We had some guys that we really liked and guys who got better as the season went along. So overall, this is my dream job and I’ve waited a long time to get it.
So I’m not gonna say that it was a bad experience at all. I was one of 30 and I’m happy and I’m proud and I’m looking forward to the future but it was a learning experience and let’s go from there.”
The Rockets dealt with injuries to Christian Wood, John Wall, Eric Gordon, and Danuel House, in addition to trade requests from P.J. Tucker and Victor Oladipo, along with the aforementioned Harden and Westbrook. Fortunately for Silas, the Rockets’ season helped pave the way for the franchise to land Jalen Green, who they selected second overall.
The Rockets also added several other rookies in the draft, such as Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba, and Josh Christopher, who all flashed their talent during the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas. With the Rockets’ youth movement underway, Silas and the team could be in store for a fun season and an even brighter future.