Rockets to hire Mike D'Antoni as new head coach
Mike D'Antoni will be the 14th head coach in Rockets history
HOUSTON – A little over four weeks after the Houston Rockets disappointing 2015-16 season ended, they have made their choice for new head coach.
Mike D'Antoni is the chosen one and will be the 14th coach in team history.
This will be his fifth stint as an NBA head coach with his most recent head coaching stint ending after the 2014 season with the Lakers.
The hiring of D'Antoni marks the 5th coaching change for owner Leslie Alexander who has owned the team since the summer of 1993.
D'Antoni follows J.B. Bickerstaff, Kevin McHale, Rick Adelman and Jeff Van Gundy as new Rockets coaches under Alexander.
D'Antoni, 65, most recently was an associate head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, where he spent the final four months of the 2015-16 season.
Before that, D'Antoni coached the Los Angeles Lakers for nearly two seasons.
Prior to D'Antoni's two seasons with the Lakers, he was the head coach for the Knicks, Suns and Nuggets. He has compiled a 455-426 record as a head coach during his 12 seasons as an NBA head coach.
He guided the Phoenix Suns to back-to-back appearances in the western conference finals in 2005 and 2006.
His Suns lost a 6-game series to the Mavericks in 2006 and the year prior, the Suns were upended in five games by the Spurs.
He was named NBA coach of the year for the Suns in 2004-05 after leading the Suns to a franchise-record 62-20 mark.
From 2004-07, D'Antoni's Suns led the NBA in scoring each season.
His last head coaching gig lasted just 154 games after he joined the Lakers following their 10th game of the season in 2012 and guiding them to a 40-32 record the remainder of the season which earned them a playoff berth in the western conference.
The lost four straight games to the Spurs in the first round, all by double figures and all without Kobe Bryant, who had suffered an Achilles tear just before the playoffs began.
That 2012-13 season was also Dwight Howard's lone season in Los Angeles.
D'Antoni is known as an offensive-minded, up-tempo coach that stresses ball movement on offense.
In 2012, D'Antoni was an assistant coach for Team USA at the London Olympics, a team that included James Harden.
D'Antoni spent four years in the NBA as a player and 13 more playing professionally in Italy. In 1990, he was voted the Italian League's all-time greatest point guard.
The Rockets need for a new coach began last season when they fired Kevin McHale just 11 games into the season after a 4-7 start. Assistant J.B. Bickerstaff was named the interim coach and posted a 37-34 record over the remainder of the season, followed by the team's 4-1 series loss to the Warriors.
Bickerstaff was one of 12 candidates interviewed for the permanent position, but he informed the team after the interview, he no longer was a candidate.
10 other candidates were interviewed for the position since the search began. That list included new New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek, new Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel, Clippers assistant Sam Cassell, Hornets assistant Stephen Silas, Rockets assistant Chris Finch, Grizzlies assistant Jeff Bzdelik, Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian, Spurs assistant James Borrego, Magic assistant Adrian Griffin and television analyst Kenny Smith.
Several of those interviewed, most notably Bzdelik and Kalamian, are thought to be under consideration for a spot on D'Antoni's staff.
Kalamian was an assistant coach in Oklahoma City during Harden's three seasons with the Thunder.