Jeff Van Gundy Rumors
Van Gundy walked out of Ingram’s house and called his brother, Jeff, a decorated coach and current analyst for ESPN. “This guy,” Van Gundy told his brother, “is the real deal.” Ingram is one of the most important swing players in determining the NBA’s balance of power. If he becomes the player he thinks he can be — a two-way superstar who approaches double digits in assists — the Pelicans have a chance to contend for titles around Ingram and Zion Williamson. Boylan often told Ingram that New Orleans could win championships if he became their Scottie Pippen.
Turns out Jeff Van Gundy, who still lives in Houston, was wise not going through with the Rockets’ head-coaching position. Van Gundy, the former Knicks head coach, interviewed there and sources indicated he probably could have had the job but was indifferent toward it. The Rockets wound up going with Stephen Silas. It’s unclear if Van Gundy saw the deep turmoil ahead.
Harden wanted Tyronn Lue to be his coach in Houston. Sources say Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta did not — he wanted Jeff Van Gundy — and the compromise was Stephen Silas. The point here is, Harden wanted to play for Lue, who is now the Clippers’ coach. He, like a seemingly vast majority of the NBA, spends at least part of his offseasons in Los Angeles, and would probably be open to extending his stay there. He also gives the Clippers something they honestly do not have, a dynamic, scoring ball handler.
Stephen Silas was announced as head coach. The many different Rockets bigwigs—Fertitta, Harden, Westbrook, Stone—had varied notions of who should coach. Fertitta was talked out of Jeff Van Gundy who was seen as a tough fit with Harden and Westbrook. Harden reportedly wanted Lue. Stone is close with John Lucas. Stephen Silas—who one source called “just the nicest guy”—emerged as the compromise. Morey had long been a fan. Silas had briefly been a head coach in Charlotte, filling in when Steve Clifford missed several games in the 2017-2018 season. The feedback from those who had been there at the time was a question about his ability to take charge of strong personalities. One source sees confirmation of this in Harden’s calculation that he didn’t need to arrive at training camp on time.
Early on in the Rockets’ coaching search, management asked for Harden’s input, and Silas, the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, was not among Harden’s top choices, the person told USA TODAY.
Who’s to say what Silas knew about the discord inside the organization he was about to join? Mike D’Antoni chose to leave, and Morey was out too — that much was obvious. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta preferred Jeff Van Gundy for coach, sources say, while Harden and Westbrook wanted Tyronn Lue. Silas was to be the brokered compromise, but both star players chose to try to push their way out after he was hired anyway.
According to sources, Jeff Van Gundy sent mixed vibes on his level of interest in the Rockets’ job after his interview, leading Houston in another direction in hiring Stephen Silas. Van Gundy lives in Houston and coached the Rockets before, but he may have been concerned on the fit of Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Or, he’s grown extremely comfortable as lead analyst for ABC/ESPN.