Houston Rockets Fire Coach Kevin McHale, So Who Takes Over?
The Houston Rockets, in the middle of a four-game losing streak, fired coach Kevin McHale earlier today. The team announced that assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff will serve as interim coach.Advertisement
The Rockets (4-7) haven’t had an ideal start to the season. Last season, they finished with the No 2 seed before reaching their first Western Conference Finals since 1995. According to ESPN, the current losing streak forced a players-only meeting at the Toyota Center on Tuesday.
Daryl Morey, the general manager, highlighted the urgency of the situation: “The team was not responding to Kevin McHale and we had to make the tough call. And we had to make (a decision) soon. There is not time in the tough Western Conference to wait for a turnaround.”
Three of Rockets’ losses have been by 20+ points, and two others by at least 12. Rockets are conceding more than 108 ppg, languishing at the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency. “I think you just watch our team play and it’s not that difficult (to see),” Morey explained. “You’re a team coming off a Western Conference final run and you’re a team with mostly the same group and it was not working. We will change until it’s working. We win at the Rockets. (Owner Leslie Alexander) does not accept losing. I do not accept losing. No one accepts losing.”
McHale, who finished with a solid 193-130 record in his five seasons as Rockets coach, reacted to the news of his firing in an interview to Houston Chronicle. “We were starting to address some of the issues that were the reason I was let go. We just weren’t playing with any juice, with any rhythm. We haven’t been able to get the problems solved. We probably had more meetings in last six weeks than in my previous four years here,” said the 57-year-old Hall of Famer.
“It wasn’t working,” concluded a blunt McHale, who was in the first year of a three-year extension worth more than $12 million that he signed last December.
Who takes over as the new head coach? Scott Brooks, who coached Rockets to the title in 1995, is a leading candidate. Former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is another viable option.
For the moment, Bickerstaff is the man in charge. “It’s tough because the only reason I’m here is because of (McHale),” said Bickerstaff. “I’m so thankful to him. I’m hurt that he’s not here, and I’m hurt that I won’t get to see him every day.”