Speaking on CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Tuesday, Fertitta solidified Morey's employment with the NBA franchise and said he's in charge of finding the Rockets' new head coach. "Daryl Morey's job is safe, and I'm sure he's going to pick the right head coach," Fertitta said of Morey's job to find a replacement for Mike D'Antoni, who announced he would not return to the Rockets.
Tim MacMahon: Sources: There is mutual interest between the Rockets and Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell. Cassell started his playing career with the two-time champion “Clutch City” Rockets.
Chris Mannix: Mavericks assistant coach Stephen Silas was a strong candidate for the Rockets job before D’Antoni was hired in 2016. Silas is highly regarded in league circles—could emerge as a candidate again.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Houston coach Mike D’Antoni is informing the franchise’s ownership today that he’s becoming a free agent and won’t return to the Rockets next season.
A couple of proven coaches with Rockets roots have been mentioned often inside the league as potential replacements for D'Antoni: ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy, the Rockets' coach from 2003 to 2007 who maintains a home in Houston; and former Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson, the Rockets' director of player development during the first season of Morey's tenure. Another name to watch: New Orleans Pelicans associate head coach Chris Finch. His résumé as a head coach includes championships won in the British Basketball League and with the Rockets' G League affiliate Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
If D’Antoni does leave Houston, as so many expect, Lue would likely get a serious look from the Rockets, too (with the Jeff Van Gundy candidacy, sources say, likely leading the way).
Sam Amick: But again, who the hell knows on the back end, but Jeff Van Gundy's name is the one that I heard consistently as a very possible replacement for Mike and, and it's interesting to see Thibs' name in there now because you got a guy who was Jeff's top assistant when Jeff was the Rockets coach and a guy who, you know, in terms of like the optics around Tom, it's been a bit of a roller coaster the past couple of years, you know, he was labeled, essentially, like, kind of a dinosaur who was too tough on his players and did not assimilate with today's NBA.
Sam Amick: So, you know, Van Gundy and Thibs being from the same tree, whatever happens next, I think you are starting to get a sense of what might be prioritized, obviously defense first, discipline... Now, you know, it's trying to juxtapose that reconcile that with James Harden in particular, you know, with Thibs or Van Gundy is barking at him on the on the defensive side. I mean, there's a lot we could get into there. But right now, that's probably how I see it.
Sam Amick: As I reported a couple months ago, barring a championship, if they do save the season, I do not get the sense that Mike D’Antoni is going to be back. You've had a major divide in the contract negotiations.
The Post reported in February that Thibodeau would be on Leon Rose’s short list and looked to be a favorite if the new team president chose not to bring back Mike Miller as head coach. While his reputation took a hit with the failure in bringing Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and allegedly mishandling young talent, sources told The Post the Nets and Houston will have strong interest, too. Houston’s Mike D’Antoni will be a free agent.
Thibodeau is confident he’ll get a job next season and has even been asking around the league for advice on picking the best opportunity, according to sources. The Knicks, Nets and Rockets are expected to have the three highest-profile coaching gigs available. Keep an eye on the Pelicans, Bulls and Hawks. Then there’s the big question of whether Gregg Popovich is returning for another season in San Antonio. Our advice for Thibodeau, if he lands a job, would be to hire a couple assistants who can connect and serve as a bridge with younger players.
January 19, 2021 | 1:49 pm EST Update
Mirjam Swanson: Hey, hey — Ty Lue is on the Zoom, talking hoops — including the Clips’ small-ball lineup: “We haven’t had a lot of time to work on it, but that’s one of our points of emphasis today. Keep getting better at it.”