After a dreadful 4-7 start to their season after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season, the Houston Rockets felt it was time for a change. Today, they decided to relieve head coach Kevin McHale of his duties. The organization had signed McHale to a three-year extension in the offseason, but the Rockets felt something needed to be done if they wanted to reach their ultimate goal of an NBA Championship.
Houston Rockets Fire Head Coach Kevin McHale
For some, this is a move that makes a lot of sense. For others, it is felt that the Rockets made this move a little too early. McHale has been the coach of the Rockets since 2011 and has posted a winning record in each season. Every year, he helped the team improve and make a deep playoff run. One of his greatest coaching moments was keeping the bench unit in after pulling off the miracle comeback against the Los Angeles Clippers in game 6 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Many would think it is crazy for a coach to be fired 11 games into a season after getting their team to the Conference Finals the season before. But, it was better to make this move now than later in the season.
The Rockets have too much talent on their team to be struggling this much. Although the front office did not want to fire McHale, they felt he had lost trust of the team after losing their fourth game in a row. They are not just losing games; they are getting flat out embarrassed. With the offseason acquisition of Ty Lawson, the Rockets had finally got the playmaking point guard they desperately needed. With both Lawson and James Harden being ball-dominant players, McHale could not figure out a way to get this backcourt to work. He is a good coach, but many feel the talent he had hid his actual coaching abilities. The majority of the time, McHale seemed to be getting outcoached. He failed to hold his players accountable for their poor play.
For now, J.B. Bickerstaff will be the interim head coach of the Rockets. Daryl Morey will give Bickerstaff the opportunity to coach this team long term, but do not expect that to happen. For a team that has hopes of winning a championship, they will want an experienced head coach who knows what they are doing. The leading candidates for the head coach position seem to be Tom Thibodeau and former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy. While Thibodeau would instantly help the Rockets defensive woes, he is known for not giving his players much rest. With Dwight Howard resting a lot so far, it would be interesting to see how much Thibodeau would play Howard. Van Gundy has history with the Rockets, which could make him the possible leading candidate. It will be interesting to see who the Rockets decide to make their next head coach.
With this new decision looming, the Rockets have to make the right choice. One wrong choice could really hurt their chances of a deep playoff run. The Rockets are struggling right now and there is no other way to put it. Hopefully this situation will get them motivated to turn things around.