Kevin McHale was formally announced as the new Rockets head coach this morning. And while Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said during the coaching search that they would not try to win the news conference and cautioned fans and the media to not judge a name, I would say they are two-for-two thus far. Photos From News Conference
People have written that Kevin McHale wouldn’t be media friendly and would certainly not carry the cache of let’s say a Rick Adelman, Mike Brown or even a Lawrence Frank as far as success as a head coach goes. However, McHale performed very well in front of a microphone today, and while that is on the opposite end of the spectrum in which he’ll be graded upon, as his lone job will be to get his players, whoever they are at the end of the day, to perform well and better than they did this past season on the court.
McHale certainly doesn’t have the statistics to show that he is the right guy to lead this Rockets team back to the playoffs and into contention for an NBA Championship. Forget about McHale being one fo the 50 greatest players of all-time, a 39-55 record in two different stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves doesn’t sit well with fans, nor should it. Furthermore, neither should his record as a GM, though he wasn’t brought in by owner Leslie Alexander to play GM for the year, much less a day. But we must acknowledge, McHale has never had the opportunity to take his team into the regular season as he would like it, every coach wants to coach players they’d feel comfortable with and have confidence in, not players they feel would work well under someone else.
McHale, in response to if he thinks he’ll be better prepared this time around than he was 6 years ago when he had his first shot at taking over the T-wolves after he’d fired Flip Saunders and again 2 seasons ago after he’d replaced Dwane Casey, said in being away from the game for a couple of years, that he’s had time to think about how he’d have handled things if he had a team from the get go. He views this opportunity as a fresh start, as an opportunity to take a team, and build a team along with GM Daryl Morey, the way he wants it. McHale added, that to be able to have a team form training camp on, to have a chance to grow with his players and develop a relationship with players will make a world of difference from his time in Minnesota to now.
It is important for a head coach to have the players on his team he feels are the best guys to win games, that was Rick Adelman thought he had with this tea as the roster stands now, he understood he needed a player in the middle that could block, change shots and be an enforcer, at the same time, he’d coached and watched a 6’6 Chuck Hayes develop into a player that played with a 7-footers mentality. Unfortunately, that wouldn’t win the Rocket more than 43 games.
McHale said today that while he wouldn’t turn a star player down if in fact Daryl Morey can pluck one away from another team, he feels like a team can win without a star player. It is always easier to win with star player, a guy that can close games, and a guy that can take the ball and create opportunities for himself and for others when the game is one the line. McHale used Denver as an example, when they traded Carmelo to New York, they got some nice players in return, not stars, but nice players (Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov, and Anthony Randolph) that could contribute, and did. However, the rockets last season caught fire down the stretch, and it still didn’t get them into the playoffs, the Nuggets exited in the first round of the playoffs.
This team needs a cornerstone player, they need a star, maybe two. Will the Rockets be able to get one under McHale’s watch?
There are many questions that need to be addressed with good answers, realistic solutions. Morey’s job here in Houston will be graded on this hiring, on his construction of this roster and effort to get this team back into perennial playoff contention.