Kenny Smith Out Of Rockets Coaching Race
Kenny Smith, the popular analyst for TNT, won’t be coaching Houston Rockets next season, according to sources close to the organization.Advertisement
Smith, who helped the Rockets win two championships in 1994 and 1995, had interviewed for the vacant head coaching job last week and was viewed as a fan favorite to succeed Kevin McHale and JB Bickerstaff in Houston. Rockets fans had started the hashtag #BringKennyBack over the last few weeks to try and get Smith hired. They even staged a rally for the same (see below). Sadly, those plans have come to a crashing halt.
Kenny Smith informed of decision
According to ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, the Rockets informed Smith on Monday that they were moving on to other candidates. “The team was impressed with Smith during the interview process and believes he’ll become a head coach one day, the source told Watkins, but the Rockets want a head coach with experience. Smith hasn’t held a head-coaching job at the professional or collegiate level.”
Besides Smith, the Rockets have interviewed former Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt, former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, Mike D’Antoni, Los Angeles Clippers assistant Sam Cassell, Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas and associate head coach Chris Finch for the job.
Despite all those interviews, the feeling is that Houston will most likely end up hiring either former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, former Pacers coach Frank Vogel or San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina for the job. Incidentally, the Rockets are yet to interview the aforementioned three names. It’s expected that they finalize on a new coach before the end of the month.
The Rockets fired Kevin McHale just 11 games into season, promoting assistant JB Bickerstaff to the role of interim coach. Houston finished with a subpar 41-41 record before being bounced out of the playoffs in the first round by the Golden State Warriors.
With Kenny Smith out of the race, expect the Rockets to meet Van Gundy and Vogel in the coming week.