Mike D’Antoni accomplished a lot of regular-season success in his five years serving as the Rockets head coach, but the team could never get over the hump in the playoffs, and now it will go in a different direction going forward.
D’Antoni’s contract with the Rockets expired, and it never really seemed like he or the team was going to move toward a possible extension. And to his credit, he did a great job repurposing the team’s identity this season, after their move to “small ball,” playing without a typical rim-protecting center. He got the most out of the team’s roster over the past few seasons, and had it not been for a red-hot Golden State Warriors team, the Rockets may have won a title.
But it wasn’t to be, and the Rockets are now focusing their efforts on their head coaching search. The Knicks and Nets already hired candidates, thinning the field a bit, but there are still a number of quality suitors available. Apparently, the team is looking into bringing back a guy who coached them roughly a decade ago.
Jeff Van Gundy last coached the team in 2007, and he’s stayed connected in NBA circles for a number of years, working as a broadcaster for ESPN. But it’s fair to point out that he hasn’t coached in a long time, and the Rockets need to really hit it big with this hire, as James Harden remains in his prime years, but that window is slowly closing.