Jeff Van Gundy Rumors
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.
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.”
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.”