The Houston Rockets are nearing a deal to hire Mike D’Antoni their new head coach, according to several sources close to the organization.
D’Antoni, who revolutionized the NBA with his “7 Seconds Or Less Offense”, has been a head coach with the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers before taking up a temporary assistant coach job with the Philadelphia 76ers.
According to ESPN, Rockets and D’Antoni are finalizing on a three-year contract which would include a team option for the fourth year. The Rockets fired former head coach Kevin McHale just 11 games into the just-concluded season. They replaced McHale with associate coach, J.B. Bickerstaff, who served as the interim coach for the rest of the season.
Mike D’Antoni + James Harden: A good fit?
The system that D’Antoni runs requires a point guard to dribble penetrate, drive, and kick, and opposes to ISO plays that Rockets superstar James Harden is famous for. Therefore, D’Antoni could be forced to get a quality point guard in free agency to allow Harden to play a little off-the-ball.
According to ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, the Rockets offense can challenge the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder. “D’Antoni should make the offense more efficient and not so reliant on shooting guard James Harden, who led the NBA with 566 isolation possessions (Carmelo Anthony was second with 393). Harden also commanded the basketball with a touches/possession percentage of 85.1. D’Antoni will lower those numbers with quicker pace up the floor and more pick-and-roll plays.”
It’s no secret that D’Antoni’s teams in the past have slacked on the defensive end of the floor. Therefore, the Rockets are looking to hire Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik as D’Anonti’s “defensive coordinator” while also hiring Washington Wizards assistant Roy Rogers to serve on his coaching staff.
Rockets have been on a month-long recruiting process, interviewing as many as 12 candidates before finalizing on the former Phoenix Suns coach. According to ESPN, “D’Antoni interviewed twice with the Rockets, including a face-to-face meeting with team owner Leslie Alexander in Florida. During the process, D’Antoni and Silas emerged as the favorites for the job last weekend.”
Old school basketball experts are not fond of Mike D’Antoni due to the lack of focus on defense. However, it could be the way to roll seeing as Houston rely a lot on the three-point shot.