HOUSTON – Stephen Silas won’t return as coach of the Houston Rockets next season, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Silas wrapped up his third season with the team when the Rockets beat the Wizards 114-109 to finish the season 22-60. That's tied with the Spurs for the second-worst record in the NBA.
His contract had a fourth-year option that the team is declining to pick up, according to the two people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the move hadn’t been announced.
One of the people said the 49-year-old Silas could remain with the team in an undetermined role.
Silas, speaking to reporters in Washington after the game was over, said he had a meeting with Rockets officials scheduled for Monday morning but did not confirm that his tenure as Houston's head coach was over. However, he seemed prepared for that likelihood and reflected on his time with the Rockets.
“I feel proud,” he said. “I wanted to be a head coach my whole life. I wanted to be like my dad. Proud of these guys, proud of their hard work, proud of their growth and maturity as they got through the season.”
The Rockets finished with the NBA’s worst record in each of his first two seasons as they traded or released all their established stars to embark on a complete rebuild.
Houston won four of its last five games, but it wasn’t nearly enough to save the job of Silas, who joined the Rockets after spending 20 years with various NBA teams as an assistant coach and scout.
“There’s been a lot of talk about my job for a long time, right? For a couple months,” Silas said. “They just kept playing and kept working and trying hard and weren’t worried about that. They were worried about getting better and playing hard for their coach. I’m proud of that.”
It was a difficult season for Silas. His father, longtime NBA player and coach Paul Silas, died in December.
“Definitely a hard year. Death is hard when your person closest to you, the person who teaches you all about what you’re doing on a daily basis, you lose him, it makes it difficult,” Silas said. “What made it easier was a group of guys in that locker room who wouldn’t quit, just tried hard and wanted to do the right things. And a staff full of people who I could share quiet moments with or lean on.”
The Rockets will be one of three teams with the best odds to win the draft lottery and get the No. 1 pick at 14%. Houston selected Jabari Smith with the third pick last year and drafted Jalen Green at No. 2 in 2021.
Houston hasn’t had the first overall pick since 2002 when the team drafted Yao Ming.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami and AP Sports Writer Noah Trister in Washington contributed to this report.
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