The Houston Rockets had to be one of the most frustrating teams in the NBA this past season. After making the Western Conference Finals last season, many thought they would come back this season and have the potential to make another run. But unfortunately, the season did not pan out the way they thought it would. After a 4-7 start, the Rockets inexplicably fired head coach Kevin McHale and replaced him on an interim basis with assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff. The young assistant coach got the Rockets into the playoffs but barely. And they were taken out of the playoffs pretty easily by the Golden State Warriors at the end of the season. Needless to say, they did not meet the expectations that were set for them. And with the expectation not being met, Bickerstaff was not really considered for the head coaching position permanently. Many wondered where the Rockets would go to find their next head coach. There were many names that were mentioned like Tom Thibodeau and Frank Vogel for their head coaching position. But in the end, there was one name that was mentioned a few times until it became reality. And now the Rockets have their new head coach.
It is being reported that the Rockets have agreed to a four-year deal with Mike D'Antoni to be their new head coach. The former Suns, Knicks and Lakers head coach apparently impressed them enough with his vision that they Darryl Morey and crew were satisfied naming him the head coach. And with the pieces they have offensively, D'Antoni may like what he sees. More than likely Dwight Howard will opt out rather than playing for D'Antoni, but that means that the Rockets can focus more on the offensive end. The Rockets will more than likely keep restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas and will likely pick up the team option for power forward Michael Beasley. Those talented offensive players along with James Harden give the Rockets some offensive punch. But with D'Antoni's style, that may not happen. Everyone knows that D'Antoni likes to speed the tempo up, get shots off quickly for his team and he also likes to play with a small lineup. But with his style, he has only had success in one place: Phoenix. And there he had players like Joe Johnson, Amar'e Stoudemire and MVP point guard Steve Nash. Other than that, he has just been running a system that might be fun to watch at times, but has not given teams coached by him much success. Houston may have some talented players, but none like the talent he had with Phoenix.
But of course basketball is not only played on offense but on defense as well. Besides Beverly and Ariza, all of the defenders the Rockets could have are subpar. People may complain about Dwight Howard and what he does not do, but he is still a guy that can defend and rebound. Beasley is a guy that has always been able to score but he has never been a good defender throughout his career. Motiejunas is a talented offensive player, but his defense also leaves a lot to be desired. And then there's James Harden. The scoring machine can get buckets like no other, but he gives up essentially everything he scores. He is probably the worst wing defender in the NBA and it isn't because he does not have ability. He just does not put out any effort to play on that end of the court. So with D'Antoni being the head coach now and him being an offensive guy, can we really expect his defense to get any better? Unfortunately, we can only imagine it getting worse from here on out. And that could be something that could have Rockets fans and basketball fans in general ready to throw their remotes at the television.
So with D'Antoni, the Rockets could be a better offensive team. And time has shown that with the right pieces, D'Antoni can get it done. But for the most part, he has not gotten it done as a head coach. He had success with the Suns, but he has not been very successful with the Knicks and the Lakers. His fast-paced offense has only helped teams get boat-raced instead of dominate. And even though small ball is something he has always used, he has never taught the defensive side of the ball to those teams so they can at least not have to outscore a team every game. With D'Antoni and Harden, Houston fans could be frustrated by the tenth game of the season. But there is no firing D'Antoni coming. He will be around whether fans or the team likes it or not. The real MVP in this equation is D'Antoni's agent. He has gotten him another coaching deal after he has done absolutely nothing in New York and Los Angeles. And now the Rockets will get to enjoy the misery that he will bring them. Close your eyes Rockets fans. Hopefully it will all be over for you soon. And thank Daryl Morey and his analytical mind for this pickup for bring D'Antoni to town.