Steve Clifford Rumors
When the news officially broke that Stephen Silas would be chosen as the 14th head coach in Houston Rockets franchise history — less than two weeks ago — there was a warm feeling enveloped in NBA circles. Of course, there were those that felt Silas’ time had come for an opportunity on the biggest stage, having earned his stripes for the better part of 20 years. His father, Paul Silas was extremely proud, having first given his son an opportunity in the league, as well as a number of good wishes from prominent league voices. But for Clifford, it was a bit different. “I’m obviously super excited for Steven,” Clifford told The Athletic. “I mean, he’s a close friend and a terrific coach.”
Clifford’s joy comes from a place embedded in patience and humble beginnings. It’s always a pleasurable experience watching close friends succeed and advance in their lives. We often hear of the fraternity that is the world of NBA coaches and the tight-knit community they are, but Silas and Clifford didn’t arrive in the NBA as head coaches from day one. Twenty years ago, Clifford was an advance scout working for the New York Knicks under Jeff Van Gundy, and Silas was an advance scout for the Charlotte Hornets under his father, Paul. “Well we go way, way back to my first year in the NBA,” Clifford says with a chuckle.
Players on the roster were impressed with how quickly Silas seemed to pick up the reigns and run with it despite having no experience. His fellow assistant coaches also marveled at how Silas carried himself for the five and a half weeks that Clifford would be away from the game. “Very purposeful,” Clifford said. “Anything that he ever did, whether it was a game plan, walking through defensive coverages, I would say the same thing —detail. He’s a terrific teacher. He has a great way of communicating with the players. You know he’s always going to be prepared.”
But elite players are outliers; they’ll be great next season, too, no matter when it starts, whether games are again played without fans or if teams spend part of all of the year in another bubble. Most of the rest of the league is still deciphering what it saw from its players in Orlando. “Especially, to me, it was obviously for everybody, a very unique challenge,” said Magic coach Steve Clifford, whose team lived on the Disney campus during the restart and playoffs, by his estimation, 55 or 56 days. “I was really happy with our guys,” he said. “Going down there, let’s face it, you just don’t know. Are guys going to get homesick? Are they going to struggle mentally because of the restrictions? We practiced a lot better than I’d hoped for, to be honest with you. Until we took the injuries.
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
Looking at your overall NBA career arc, what pops into your mind? Michael Carter-Williams: Getting cut from Houston was a tough time for me. It was a low point in my life. I have a great agent, and I knew he was going to get me to a place where I would get another shot. I just tried to prepare as much as I could, I just wanted to be the most prepared I could be going in there. I played under Coach Cliff (Steve Clifford) before, so it was good, it worked out. He trusts, he has trust in my game and knows what I can do, so he wasn’t afraid to put me in the game and I was able to put together some pretty good games to help us win and find a true role on the team, which I’m thankful for.
Roy Parry: Magic coach Steve Clifford on what he took away from Game 4 after a closer look at film and some keys to winning Game 5: “There were a lot more positives than negatives. It’s going to be the same thing. The rebounding game and the turnover game have to change.”