HOUSTON – Mike D’Antoni parted ways with the Houston Rockets on Sunday and the Rockets are looking for a new head coach.
The Rockets are sticking with General Manager Daryl Morey, according to reports, meaning small-ball is likely staying and whatever coach the Rockets hire will have to execute that and coach around a James Harden- and Russell Westbrook-led roster that doesn’t have much flexibility.
Here’s a look at some of the candidates:
Sam Cassell, Clippers assistant coach
The former Rockets NBA champion has been for more than a decade, working for the Washington Wizards, then with Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Many around the NBA say Cassell is ready to lead his own team, and he’s beloved in Houston after winning two championships.
Sources: There is mutual interest between the Rockets and Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell. Cassell started his playing career with the two-time champion “Clutch City” Rockets.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 13, 2020
Tyronn Lue, Clippers assistant coach
I guess the Rockets are raiding the Clippers for coaching candidates. Former Cavaliers head coach and NBA champion Tyronn Lue was fired shortly after LeBron left and caught on with Doc Rivers in Los Angeles. Lue is known as a players coach and would likely get the sign-off from Harden.
With a head coaching vacancy in Houston, expect the franchise to take a strong look at Los Angeles Clippers assistant Tyronn Lue.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) September 13, 2020
Jeff Van Gundy, USA basketball
The former Rockets coach’s name gets brought up any time there’s an opening in Houston. Van Gundy is currently working with USA Basketball and broadcasting for ESPN/ABC. He led Houston to the playoffs three out of four seasons but never made it past the first round.
There have been rumbles in coaching circles for weeks that the Rockets will strongly consider Jeff Van Gundy to replace Mike D’Antoni if they make a coaching change— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) September 13, 2020
GM Daryl Morey, remember, had interest in rehiring Van Gundy when Houston hired D’Antoni instead in May 2016 https://t.co/CJXIul5WgY
Jason Kidd, Lakers assistant coach
The former Bucks and Nets head coach is still in the playoffs helping Frank Vogel on the Lakers. Kidd made the playoffs in three of his five seasons as a head coach, but struggled with a strong Bucks team in 2017-18, which ended up making the playoffs without him.
Kenny Atkinson, former Nets head coach
Atkinson led a young Nets team to the playoffs in 2018-19 before ownership brought in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. The superstars decided they didn’t want Atkinson as head coach, and now he’s looking for a job. Atkinson did a great job shepherding a young roster into a competitive team.
Ime Udoka, 76ers assistant coach
Gregg Popovich’s longtime assistant joined the 76ers in 2019 and has been brought up for various head coaching opportunities over the years.