The Houston Rockets’ head coach role is vacant now, after four years. 69-year-old Mike D’Antoni parted ways with the team, with his contract expiring in the offseason. After being unable to take the Rockets to a title, D’Antoni decided it was time to seek a new challenge.
But The Athletic recently revealed that none of the Rockets players, or even GM Daryl Morey, were aware of this decision before it was all over the media. D’Antoni had not decided about leaving completely and was expecting a call from owner Tilman Fertitta. But after waiting all morning, the call never came. That’s when D’Antoni decided it was time to test the market.
So, when they were on their flight back to Houston, D’Antoni rang up his agent and told him about his decision. Before they landed in Houston, the players were in for a shock when news flashed about D’Antoni’s decision. Morey was upset but eventually understood and respected him.
What’s next for D’Antoni and the Houston Rockets?
The Philadelphia 76ers are also looking for a coach after firing Brett Brown. D’Antoni is one of the top two candidates to take over and has an interview this week. After working with a small-ball lineup in Houston, he could be working with the tallest team in the NBA.
He will have to completely redo his tactics if he is given the job, and would be intriguing to see how he uses a team that is poor in outside shooting.
On the other hand, the Rockets situation is not so bright. They made trades that suited D’Antoni’s unique approach, and now, with him gone, they look directionless. With this small-ball lineup failing, they will have to hit up the market again to start with fresh.
Another problem for them is that they have two players, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who will command over $40 million next season onwards. That locks up their cap space and doesn’t give them much room to work with since they have to rework their team.
It could be a tough off-season for Morey and the Rockets and they could be in for some shake-ups.