The Houston Rockets today named Stephen Silas the 14th head coach in franchise history. Silas spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach on Rick Carlisle’s staff in Dallas, helping guide the Mavericks to the highest offensive rating in NBA history in 2019-20.
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“This is an opportunity that was well-earned and long overdue for Coach Silas and we’re thrilled to have him as head coach,” said Rockets owner Tilman J. Fertitta. “Stephen is a basketball lifer who is highly regarded around the league. Our basketball operations leaders Rafael Stone and Eli Witus, along with Tad Brown and Patrick Fertitta, conducted an extensive search of many worthy candidates, but in the end we knew Stephen was the right person for the job. I know Stephen cannot wait to get to work and I hope Rockets fans are as excited as I am for the upcoming season.”
“I’d like to thank Mr. Fertitta and Rafael for this tremendous opportunity as well as all of the mentors I’ve had over the years, especially my dad, Paul,” said Silas. “Basketball has been a huge part of my life since the day I was born and this is the moment I’ve strived for. I’ve been fortunate to have coached some great players over the course of my career and am excited to work with this incredibly talented team as we build upon the success they have established.”
Jeff Van Gundy was one of three finalists for the Houston Rockets’ head coaching job after long being considered the favorite. But the Rockets ultimately decided to hire Stephen Silas for the job and the reason could have pivoted on Houston’s stars not supporting Van Gundy’s candidacy to the degree that would have made all parties comfortable. “Van Gundy, I don’t know if there was a lot of buy in or any buy in from James Harden or Russell Westbrook,” said Tim MacMahon on the Brian Windhorst podcast. “And I don’t know if Jeff Van Gundy necessarily wanted to, you know, have to beg to coach guys. And so I think personality wise, that might not have been a match.”
“We could just say Van Gundy was considered the lead candidate all season long, I think that the most important decision maker for the Rockets wasn’t quite so sure about that one,” added MacMahon.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas is finalizing a deal to become the next head coach of the Houston Rockets, sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Rockets were sold on Silas’ offensive ingenuity, his pedigree w/ Rick Carlisle, Steve Clifford and his father, Paul Silas. Silas has coached some remarkable guards in his NBA career, including Luka Doncic, Kemba Walker, Steph Curry. Now he gets to run offense for Harden-Westbrook
The Rockets had already begun work on putting together a staff expected to include at least two former head coaches. Talks had already begun with Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan. John Lucas, the Rockets director of player personnel who was a candidate for the head coaching position, is expected to receive an offer to remain the team in some capacity and also could be made a part of Silas’ staff.
Jeff Van Gundy was the early frontrunner to become the next Rockets coach. Brian Windhorst of ESPN: I think circumstances have changed. Many people think John Lucas, the longtime assistant there who hasn’t been a head coach in the league in 18 years, has a chance here. And part of that is his relationship with the players and his relationship with Rafael Stone, who was just named general manager. So, while there are other candidates, including Stephen Silas, I would say today that my guess is it’s going to be John Lucas.
Alykhan Bijani: #Rockets head coach search according to @Adrian Wojnarowski: “Jeff Van Gundy has remained the focus of this and they’re trying to figure out if they can get to a place where it makes sense for both sides.” “Stephen Silas…is another prominent candidate still in this search.”
Tim MacMahon: Mavs assistant Stephen Silas will have a second interview with the Rockets in Houston on Friday, sources tell @Brian Windhorst and me.
Mark Berman: Jeff Van Gundy just left #Rockets owner @TilmanJFertitta office where he met with the Rockets for a second time as team officials continue the process to find their next head coach.
Marc Stein: Jeff Van Gundy remains a co-finalist in Houston and was still talking to the Rockets today after their initial interview Wednesday But Lucas, league sources say, has at least three key admirers in the organization: James Harden, Russell Westbrook and new Rockets GM Rafael Stone
Salman Ali: Wrote about this yesterday: Don’t dismiss the idea of John Lucas as a head coach candidate. It cannot be understated how beloved he is by the players and organization.
Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue’s candidacy for the Rockets’ head-coaching job has gathered significant momentum after a meeting with Houston’s ownership and management Monday, sources told ESPN. The Rockets are competing with the Clippers for Lue and could try to extend an offer before Los Angeles has completed its search process, but that isn’t expected to happen before Houston meets with former coach Jeff Van Gundy this week, sources said.
Van Gundy, currently an analyst for ESPN, has been a favorite of Rockets ownership and management, and he is known to prefer the idea of coaching in his adopted home city to avoid uprooting his family. Van Gundy, 58, has been active as a coach with USA Basketball in recent years, but he hasn’t coached in the NBA since resigning with the Rockets in 2007. Van Gundy was 430-318 in the regular season and 44-44 in the postseasons in parts of 11 seasons with Rockets and Knicks.
Both Lue and Van Gundy are prominent parts of the Rockets’ and Clippers’ coaching searches — and Lue has been the Clippers’ front-runner since Doc Rivers was dismissed on Sept. 28, sources said. Lue’s candidacy has the support of prominent players on both teams, sources said. Houston had initially wanted to hire Rivers to replace Mike D’Antoni, sources said, but his talks with the 76ers moved quickly to a resolution.
Marc Stein: The Rockets have scheduled an interview Wednesday with ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy for their coaching vacancy, league sources say
Marc Stein: The Rockets interviewed Clippers assistant Ty Lue on Monday — Lue is also being pursued by the Clippers and New Orleans — and Rockets assistant coach John Lucas is expected to interview for the Houston vacancy after Van Gundy
The Rockets moved their coaching search to the former head coach portion of the process, a person with knowledge of the effort to choose a successor said on Monday. Team officials have met with their director of player development John Lucas before Monday’s interviews with former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue, the individual said, adding that the Rockets also expect to meet with their former head coach Jeff Van Gundy now that his broadcasting duties for ABC/ESPN are complete for the season.
The Rockets have not ruled out expanding the interviews beyond the seven planned, but have been pleased with the sessions so far, according to the individual with knowledge of the process so far. Finalists could be brought back for follow-ups, but the sessions have included brief introductions with Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta before longer sessions with general manager Daryl Morey and others in basketball operations.
Mark Berman: Tyronn Lue, interviewing with the #Rockets, played here during the 2004-05 season: “Just playing with T-Mac & Yao Ming. That was unbelievable..It was a great experience for me and also being able to be coached by Jeff Van Gundy, who’s one of the great coaches in the NBA.” pic.twitter.com/WAAE2mvIaF
Mark Berman: Tyronn Lue,in Houston to interview with the #Rockets, believes his knowledge of the #Rockets is a plus: “It helps b/c I’ve seen those guys play. Seeing Russell play & James play..being around them..knowing u can help them in a lot of different ways. I just want to be part of that”
Mark Berman: Tyronn Lue in Houston to interview w/ the #Rockets: “It means a lot just to have an opportunity to come in & interview for a head coaching job here in Houston. It’s very exciting..having an opportunity to have a chance to coach 2 MVP players in Russell Westbrook & James Harden..”
Brian Windhorst of ESPN: “All of us know Jeff Van Gundy. He’s a colleague. He really badly wants to get back into coaching. He’s really tried to reinvigorate his career. He really wants another job, and Houston is his home.”
Marc Stein: Ty Lue is scheduled to interview with the Rockets early next week for Houston’s coaching vacancy, league sources say Also expected in Houston in the near future: Interviews for current Rockets staffer John Lucas and ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy (who calls Game 5 of the Finals tonight)
After five seasons in Denver, where Unseld Jr. helped transform the Nuggets from a middling defensive team to one that finished 10th in defensive rating last season, Malone’s top assistant is in the running for at least two jobs. Unseld Jr. has already interviewed for the Houston Rockets head coaching vacancy and was scheduled to interview for the Los Angeles Clippers job on Thursday, a league source told The Denver Post.
After five seasons in Denver, where Wes Unseld Jr. helped transform the Nuggets from a middling defensive team to one that finished 10th in defensive rating last season, Malone’s top assistant is in the running for at least two jobs. Unseld Jr. has already interviewed for the Houston Rockets head coaching vacancy and was scheduled to interview for the Los Angeles Clippers job on Thursday, a league source told The Denver Post.
Mark Berman: NBA sources: #Rockets process to find their next coach includes @Denver Nuggets ass’t Wes Unseld Jr,who has interviewed.Rockets also met with @Dallas Mavericks ass’t Stephen Silas, @Minnesota Timberwolves assoc HC David Vanterpool & sources confirm former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson has also interviewed
Alykhan Bijani: Kenny Atkinson interviewed for the Houston #Rockets head coach position this week, league sources tell me and @Kelly Iko
Marc Stein: Tyronn Lue has completed sitdowns with the Clippers and the Pelicans about their coaching openings … and Lue’s interview for the Rockets’ coaching vacancy, league sources say, will now take place this week after it was moved from the weekend
Marc Stein: John Lucas is an emerging candidate in the Rockets’ search for a new head coach, league sources say. Lucas served as the Rockets’ player development coach on Mike D’Antoni’s staff for the past four seasons and has strong working relationships with Rockets star guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Get Up: It is not a forgone conclusion that Ty Lue will end up as the Clippers’ next head coach, according to @wojespn. “I’m told he’s going to meet with New Orleans soon. Houston wants to talk him.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: Minnesota Timberwolves associate HC David Vanterpool will interview for the Houston Rockets head coaching job, sources tell ESPN. Vanterpool spent seven seasons on Portland staff before becoming the top assistant with Minnesota a year ago.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Houston and New Orleans are among teams planning to interview Clippers assistant Ty Lue in near future, sources tell ESPN. The Clippers are expected to begin meeting with coaching candidates soon — and Lue will be prominent in that search to replace Doc Rivers.
Lue, a former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach, has some options. The Clippers reached out to him Monday about being a candidate to replace Rivers, who is a close friend, according to sources. Sources added that representatives of the New Orleans Pelicans are scheduled to fly to the West Coast for an informal meeting with Lue on Friday. He’s also scheduled to interview for the Houston Rockets job next week. But Lue is interested in coaching the Sixers.
The Rockets do have interest in Rivers, a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking said. They were expecting and likely still plan to begin requesting permission to speak with candidates or scheduling meetings by Wednesday or Thursday. Those candidates are expected to include Tyronn Lue, Jeff Van Gundy, Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., Stephen Silas and possibly Sam Cassell.
Marc Stein: ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy, about to broadcast the NBA Finals, is suddenly a candidate for two coaching vacancies Van Gundy has admirers with the Clippers (most notably Lawrence Frank) as well as Houston (Daryl Morey wanted JVG in 2016 and Tilman Fertitta is also said to be a fan)
Can ‘Sam I Am’ the guard whisperer work his magic in Clutch City? The more I hear about Cassell — either from players or folks around the league — the more a fit makes sense. Jovan’s description only strengthens that stance, looking at the main points of his analysis and identifying what Houston needs. Cassell would be a first-time head coach should he accept the job, but it’s hard to argue the fit. For those that walk the storyline/narrative route, you’d be bringing back an influential guard who was a part of the most successful era in team history. The Steve Nash hire in Brooklyn raised a few eyebrows, but the knowledge of the game is there, the experience is there, the savviness is there. Cassell possesses all of those qualities in spades. For the sheer ‘prodigal son’ championship feel, I’d have a hard time believing ownership wouldn’t be jumping at that opportunity.
Brian Windhorst on Rockets’ coaching search: Keep an eye on former Rocket, a guy who won a championship in Houston, Sam Cassell. And if not him, one of the favorites is our colleague here at ESPN, former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, in the mix for this job.
Mike D’Antoni is out as head coach of the Rockets. You’ve been petitioning for your former teammate Sam Cassell to replace him. What about Cassell makes you think he’s the best option? Vernon Maxwell: I just feel like it’s his time. He’s been on the bench as an assistant coach for 15 years [Cassell started coaching in 2009]. I get tired of these owners and general managers, they just recycle all these goddamn coaches. You’ve gotta try something new. You’ve gotta give them a chance to see what they can do, and I don’t think that’s fair to guys like Sam. They need to give him a chance and a legit shot. Let him bring in his people that he wants and I think he’ll do fine. He’s ready now.
How serious of a candidate is Ty Lue for the coaching position? It’s kinda hard to gauge, no ?—considering that the sample size of him as a head coach is rather small. — Daniel B. Kelly Iko: Lue is a serious candidate. I respectfully disagree with the notion that his sample size is hard to gauge. Remember it was Lue who took over the job from David Blatt midway through the 2016 season and led the Cavaliers to the promised land, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to steal a Game 7 win in Oakland. That of course takes LeBron James, but also coaching guts. During his stint in Cleveland, Lue led the Cavs to three straight Finals appearances. I’m fairly certain anyone within the Rockets organization would take those odds, especially being able to garner the respect of the greatest player in the world and compete on the league’s highest platform.
Jonathan Feigen: Tilman Fertitta on the coaching search: “It begins and end with the general manager. That’s why you have a basketball operations team. They’ll make a recommendation to me. I’m the sign off guys. I wouldn’t know how to interview a basketball coach.”
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January 23, 2021 | 8:06 pm EST Update
Ryan Saunders will remain coach of the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves, at least until he gets an opportunity to coach a stretch with star Karl-Anthony Towns in the regular lineup. “I haven’t even talked to (basketball president Gersson Rosas) about that — he hasn’t brought it up, but you’re asking me, and it’s probably hard to tell a guy that you aren’t doing the job when your best guy isn’t playing,” Wolves owner Glen Taylor said Saturday from his home in Mankato.
Taylor could make a popular diversity statement by naming hard-driving Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve to coach the Wolves. “I kid her about that, but I’m not making any changes — I’m talking to Cheryl, and we’re trying to put a really good team together for the Lynx right now,” Taylor said. “She’s planning on coaching them. “But,” Taylor added, “she’s an interesting person, isn’t she?”
For most of a year, Taylor has explored a sale of the Wolves and Lynx. How’s that coming? “Well, it’s not coming is the best way to say it,” Taylor said. “I haven’t found anything that for sure says I should move ahead.” Taylor’s price tag for the Wolves and Lynx is estimated to be in the $1.5 billion range. With NBA expansion — Las Vegas and Seattle have been mentioned — current team owners could each be in for a reported $160 million expansion fee windfall. “Obviously I’m aware of that — you’ve got to pick your time,” Taylor said, adding that no definite decision for expansion has been made. “The other question: Is now a good time to sell when you don’t have fans? And it’s not a good time.”