Rockets GM Draws the Line With Coach Ime Udoka: “What Happens In-Game Is on Him”

Published 12/19/2023, 10:57 AM EST

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The Houston Rockets look like they are back on the map. After Harden left the Rockets in 2021, the team underwent a roster overhaul. Now they are back on track, just 2.5 games shy of the 4th-seeded Sacramento Kings, something that would have been a dream a few years ago for a team that had won no more than 22 games in the last three seasons. Much of the credit for their success goes to their general manager, Rafael Stone, the man who staged the roster rebuild. However, their head coach, Ime Udoka, also a part of Stone’s overarching strategy for the rebuild, has also had a part to play in the success of the franchise this season.

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However, GM Rafael Stone recently divulged the working relationship between the duo, seemingly drawing a line between their respective duties in the organization.

The working relationship between the Rockets’ GM and head coach

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During a conversation with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, when asked to comment on his relationship with head coach Ime Udoka, the Rockets’ GM succinctly summarised it in two words: “It’s good.” However, he further elaborated that what goes on during the games is purely under Udoka’s purview; he holds the reins for all in-game decisions. “I don’t know what you’re getting at with the question, but we talk all the time about most things — but what happens in-game is on him,” said Stone.

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This is not to say they don’t discuss what goes on in the game. Stone divulges that Udoka likes to get his input on most things. “And we certainly talk about what happened during a particular game, not in a “What should have happened,” not in that way. More, ‘This is what happened, is there anything you happened to have seen?’ That’s a question he likes to ask me a lot. ‘Is there anything you see?'” He further added, “Thus far it’s been a really good working relationship. I’ve enjoyed it.”

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While there is no denying that improved performances from Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith,  Tari Eason, and Dillon Brooks, especially on the defensive end, have had a huge part to play in their success, one can’t help but wonder whether there’s more to that.

The secret sauce behind Houston’s success this season

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It turns out there is. Having Ime Udoka has proved to be a game-changer for the franchise. One of the things Stone appreciates about the new head coach is that he is open to new ideas. The two can hold meaningful conversations regarding improvements within the team.

Stone further adds, “If something’s not working for our group or an individual player, we can have a good dialogue about various kinds of thoughts as to why that is.” This just might be the recipe for success that the team had sought after for years—a proactive coach taking the initiative to bring about positive change.

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The Rockets sit right outside the top eight in the Western Conference with 13 wins and 11 losses. Do you think they’ll be able to make it to the playoffs this season?

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Written by:

Darshita Daga

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“When you think about winning, you go to the extreme '' - I try to stick by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s words. As a passionate reader, who found comfort in libraries, I am pursuing a degree course in English. With my newfound admiration for Giannis and the Bucks, I decided to explore NBA journalism as my career.
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Edited by:

Ruth John

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