McHale comments on his firing from the Rockets
Former Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, in an appearance as a guest studio analyst on TNT on Tuesday, said he was stunned by his firing during the first month of the season.
“We had a rough camp, a lot of guys injured,” McHale explained during his first public appearance since being fired just 11 games into the season.
“Dwight Howard couldn't do back-to-back practices and wasn’t going to be able to play in back-to-back games until December. James (Harden) had sprained his ankle in the summer, came in overweight and we just weren’t playing well.”
The Rockets opened the season with three consecutive 20-point losses, the last of which came against the Heat after the Rockets had built a 21 point second-half lead.
Houston won just four of its next eight games and the morning before the Rockets were set to host Portland, McHale was let go.
“I told our guys at the end of training camp, I said we’re a month, six weeks away from our team kind of gelling and playing well,” McHale said.
“So we got off to a tough start and I came in and I sat down and they said 'You're fired.' I went ‘whoa.’ I was like 'wow.' It really, really surprised me," he added.
“We had won 56 games the year before, got to the western conference finals with that same exact team, for the most part. I thought that might buy me a little bit more time, but I guess not."
The Rockets are seventh in the Western Conference playoffs standings and are 27-26 on the season, going 23-19 under interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
“I’ve never had a team that I’ve been with coaching that I have not been able to get motivated, to get going and winning (games),” McHale said.
“Look, we were not playing well, I’ll be first to admit that. But it was so short, 11 games.”
McHale was joined in studio by host Ernie Johnson and analysts Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.
Barkley added his thoughts on McHale’s firing.
“Obviously I don’t like your general manager (Daryl Morey),” Barkley said. “I thought he threw you under the bus. You were in the Western Conference finals five months ago and after 11 games (they fired you). I thought that was a disgrace and a travesty.”
McHale has previously worked as an analyst for TNT and NBATV beginning during the 2009-2010 season.