Adrian Wojnarowski: As Rockets move toward formal offer…

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Mike D'Antoni, the architect of the Phoenix Suns' celebrated high-paced and high-scoring offense a decade ago, has emerged as a favorite for the Rockets' coaching position, two individuals with know-ledge of the team's thinking said on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the process.
Mike D'Antoni's candidacy for the Houston Rockets' ‎coaching job is gaining momentum, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN on Wednesday that D'Antoni has emerged as a leading candidate for the post, having impressed Rockets owner Leslie Alexander in multiple conversations since the search began. Alexander vowed to ESPN last month during the playoffs that he would take a more active role in this coaching search than he has in the past.
There had been significant support within the Rockets’ front office for a reunion with Van Gundy, but it became apparent that owner Leslie Alexander was uncertain about restoring the partnership, league sources said.
Veteran NBA coach Mike D'Antoni has landed a second interview with Houston and is an increasingly serious candidate for the Rockets' coaching vacancy, according to league sources. Sources told ESPN.com that D'Antoni, who is currently serving as associate head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, was summoned for a second sit-down with the club -- this time face-to-face with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander -- after impressing in his first interview.
Sources told ESPN.com that D'Antoni, currently serving as associate head coach with the Philadelphia 76ers, was summoned for a second sit-down with the club -- this time face-to-face with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander -- after impressing in his first interview. The Rockets, sources say, would seek to hire a coach with strong defensive credentials, to essentially serve as D'Antoni's defensive coordinator, if talks progress to a serious stage and D'Antoni eventually emerges as Houston's choice to replace Kevin McHale and interim successor J.B. Bickerstaff.
The former Rockets point guard discussed his interview with Houston during TNT’s pregame show Monday prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. “Some of the information is sensitive … but we met,” Smith said. “Then after we met, I had great talks with (team owner) Les Alexander afterwards for a couple of days. We corresponded. “The Rockets have a philosophy of what they think their coach should be. Right now, I’m here and it looks like I’m going to be here. And that’s great.”
Mark Berman: Kenny Smith is no longer involved in the Rockets coaching search, but really appreciates getting the chance to talk with owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey about the job: "The process has been great. It's been a great opportunity. I had several calls with Les Alexander. I met with him once and we talked on several occasions. It was a great process, and I wish the Rockets the best. Right now it just looks like the fit doesn't work."
Mark Berman: Kenny Smith said it meant a lot that the Rockets reached out to him about their vacant head coaching position: "It was great. I know that I'm more than capable of managing a team, more than capable of coaching a team. I audition every night without trying to by being on television. It was great that (Rockets owner Leslie Alexander) recognized that this year. When you get a chance to talk with people at that length you get to know even more about them that I didn't even know as a player. It was a great opportunity."
Mark Berman: Kenny Smith is no longer involved in the Rockets search for their next head coach. He called it a great opportunity to interview for the job: "I will be a head coach in the NBA some day. Never underestimate the heart of a champion."
Former Rockets guard Kenny Smith will no longer be a candidate to be Rockets head coach, a person with knowledge of the decision said Monday on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the process. Smith was described as very impressive and likely to become an NBA head coach if he pursues it, the individual familiar with the decision-making said, but the Rockets will shift their focus to experienced head coaches and extremely experienced assistants.
David Medrano: Got a gut feeling it's Jeff Van Gundy or bust. Any idea if his job as an analyst is the hold up? Messina willing to come on as OC? - Jonathan Feigen: They have not met with Jeff Van Gundy, but they are interested, source said. Hold-up is just to get to know others first.
#BringKennyBack was trending for a while in Houston Friday morning/afternoon. When you clicked the hashtag you saw that it was filled with love for former Rockets point guard Kenny "The Jet" Smith. Then there was word of a rally at Toyota Center So, I'm not doing anything Friday afternoon. Why not check out and see why on earth people would have a Kenny Smith rally? Don't these people understand the Jet has as likely a chance at becoming head coach as one of them? Going into it thinking this would be some kind of joke or farce, color me surprised: there was actually a pretty decent turnout.
Former Rockets guard Kenny Smith, who is an NBA analyst with TNT and a candidate to become the next head coach of the Rockets, said he had “a great meeting” with team officials on Tuesday. Smith told FOX 26 Sports he met with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and general manager Daryl Morey for 2 1/2 to three hours at Alexander’s home in South Florida.
Jeff Hornacek and Kenny Smith interviewed for the Houston Rockets job today according to a source. More interviews are being planned with other candidates.
Calvin Watkins: The Houston Rockets, who are in the middle of a coaching search, have yet to present any of the candidates to star guard James Harden according to a source. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said they would talk to Harden during the coaching search and free agency process.
Mark Berman: NBA sources confirm the #Rockets are interviewing former Cavaliers Coach David Blatt today. First reported by @Marc Stein
Jonathan Feigen: Can confirm that David Blatt is meeting with Daryl Morey and Leslie Alexander today. Jeff Hornacek and Kenny Smith tomorrow.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt is interviewing Monday for the Houston Rockets' vacancy, according to league sources.
Sacramento has taken the pragmatic, plodding approach to its coaching search, the Kings’ list of known candidates in the double digits and very little clarity about who might be in the lead, but Joerger is clearly a person of great interest now. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Kings have made Joerger a top priority in their search and appear motivated to get a deal done. Joerger, who is attracted not only to the job itself but to the area, is deliberating it all in the wake of the Grizzlies move that caught him by surprise in timing alone. He is also receiving consideration from the Houston Rockets, and that interest - however strong - is mutual as well. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the fluid nature of the situation.
The Rockets have scheduled a meeting with former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, a person with knowledge of the talks said on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the coaching search.
Sources tell ESPN.com that TNT's Kenny Smith, who like Cassell is a former Rockets player, could also land an interview. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander remains close to many players from the team's highly successful Clutch City era, which delivered two championships, and holds them in high esteem. "I've always said anything basketball is me," Smith said Wednesday night on TNT when asked by Charles Barkley if he would be interested in the Rockets job. "And this is basketball. I enjoy being here. This is me."
Calvin Watkins: Former Rockets guard and current Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell interviewed for the gig along with Rockets asst. coach Chris Finch.
Marc Stein: Can't speak to the NBA aspirations of either one, but sources say two college coaches who intrigue the Rockets are Shaka Smart and Bill Self
Among the NBA candidates with whom the Rockets are working to set up interviews are former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek and Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, league sources said. There could be 10-15 – perhaps even more – candidates interviewed in the process, league sources said.
That likely will be only the start. Morey disputed the depiction of the Rockets' chemistry problems, saying that they were no greater than is typical when teams play badly and that the chemistry was no worse this season than it was good with the same players last season. But anyone privy to all those team meetings could describe dysfunction that will have to be addressed. Next season's coach will have to demand or inspire that kind of change and likely will have to convince Morey, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander and CEO Tad Brown that he can turn the Rockets into a team built to win in the postseason.
Mark Berman: Daryl Morey says #Rockets will conduct thorough search for head coach & JB Bickerstaff will be "under consideration" https://t.co/5127rksTSx
The Rockets, sources said, were optimistic as recently as Monday that Brooks would wait until their job is officially open before making any decisions. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy was the co-favorite with Brooks in Houston.
The Rockets, sources said, were optimistic as recently as Monday that Brooks would wait until their job is officially open before making any decisions. ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy is the co-favorite with Brooks in Houston and, according to sources, he would be highly interested in returning to the Rockets if the job were to come open as expected.
Marc Stein: With Tom Thibodeau nearing final agreement on a Minnesota deal, Jeff Van Gundy remains Houston's top co-candidate alongside Scotty Brooks.
Jeff Van Gundy is at the top of the Houston Rockets’ list of potential candidates, league sources said. Jeff Van Gundy resigned as Rockets coach in 2007 after four seasons and still lives in Houston.
Alexander said he will evaluate the status of interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff once the season ends but praised the coach by saying, “he’s got a winning record (37-34) which is good from where he started with.”
Among the five interim jobs, the Knicks (Kurt Rambis), Timberwolves (Sam Mitchell) and Suns (Earl Watson) are expected to give the incumbents strong looks, sources say. Barring something unforeseen, Tony Brown in Brooklyn and J.B. Bickerstaff in Houston will be moving on.
Storyline: Houston Rockets Coach
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November 23, 2020 | 11:35 am EST Update
But he was on the treadmill at his gym on Nov. 16 when he saw a tweet come across his feed. “It’s not the way you want to know, especially my agent was talking with the team and they said my name was off the table when all the rumors and all the stuff happened,” Rubio said. “You feel like everything that they have said to you all year and buying into a new project and a young team and they need you, blah, blah, blah. It seems like nothing’s true.”
Storyline: Ricky Rubio Trade
Rubio the rookie was so much fun, wind in his hair as he surged up the court with teammates’ eyes wide open knowing full well a pass could be coming from any angle when they least expected it. Rubio the veteran has been hardened by the business side of the game. There is an edge to him now, one that will help him hold players accountable and speak his mind when something needs to be said. “Things have changed. Ten years change your life,” Rubio said. “I’m a different player, but I’m a different man, too.”
“He’s the best scorer in the draft and could be an immediate producer in the NBA with his versatility and skill set,” says a pro scout. “Defensively, he has the tools and physical profile to be effective, but he was undisciplined and missed assignments. Edwards showed a lack of commitment at that end of the floor.” Edwards thinks the answer to this is simple: focus. He points to the Michigan State game. “If I put two halves together, then I’ll be different,” he says. “If I get that, then it’s over with.” And what’s holding him back from doing that? “Nothing,” he says. “I just don’t be prepared.” In the NBA, he promises, that will change.
“In the middle of all that, Bob Myers is sitting next to me and he says, ‘a 911 call from Klay’s agent,’” Lacob told me Thursday on my podcast. “And I looked at him, I said, ‘what?’ And he picked up the phone and I could tell there was a problem and then he walked off to talk to him I think more privately, there were a lot of people in the room. And that’s when it happened. “He came back in. I mean, just devastating news for him and for us as an organization. Of course, it put us all in a situation where we had to react really quickly, not panic. But certainly we could’ve decided to change our approach literally two hours before the draft based on imperfect information. Not knowing exactly what had happened or how bad it would be.”
Storyline: Klay Thompson Injury
“First of all, we would never do that, as you know,” Lacob said. “We didn’t try to bag last season. Some really bad things happened and unfortunately, we were really bad; we have to admit that. And we wound up with the second pick in the draft, which I think is hopefully a transformational pick for our franchise. “But I can tell you when this happened and we thought what the consequences might be, if the injury was as bad as we thought, two hours before draft night, I thought about it for about 15 minutes. And then I got everybody together in the war room right before the draft and I addressed them. Bob also addressed them.
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