Now that the Kevin McHale era in Houston is over, it’s time to look to the future.
The team is in disarray and even though they’re coming off of a nice win against the Portland Trailblazers, the same old problems kept rearing their ugly little heads for the first three-quarters until the team finally showed the kind of life and toughness Red Nation got used to seeing last season.
So let’s take a look at some of the potential replacements that could take this ragtag bunch of underachievers to the next level moving forward.
5. J.B. Bickerstaff
Bickerstaff could very well be the guy the Rockets end up hiring long term to replace McHale. He’s a legacy coach, being the son of former coach Bernie Bickerstaff, and he’s young for a head coach at the age of 36.
He’s already established relationships with the players and he’s known to be a coach that knows how to adjust to the mental and emotional demands of individual players, which is valuable.
The biggest hurdle he needs to overcome is the clown show that he’s been left to fix on his own. If he can take the sinking ship that is the 2015/16 Houston Rockets and make it a competitive team in the deeply competitive Western Conference, then he might have shot.
4. Scott Brooks
Brooks would be an interesting choice for the Rockets. He never could find a way to win a championship in OKC, even with a hugely talented roster with the likes of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka.
He’s shown he knows how to juggle the personalities of multiple superstars, but he’s just not the strongest coach when it comes to the “X’s and O’s”.
If the Rockets hire Brooks it’s for one reason and one reason only, they want to do everything they can to make a run at Durant in free agency.
3. Jeff Van Gundy
Van Gundy would be a great hire for the Rockets. He’s extremely popular in the NBA as a former head coach and by fans as an announcer.
He already has history with the Rockets after taking them to the playoffs 3 times from 2003-2007, two of which were 50-plus win seasons. There’s also some history between Dwight Howard and Van Gundy’s brother Stan, and not the good kind.
The biggest question is if Van Gundy wants to leave the cushy lifestyle of being an ESPN/ABC announcer?
2. Tom Thibodeau
Everyone’s obvious answer as the top candidate is Tom Thibodeau and I almost agree. Thibodeau would come in strong, bring his signature intensity, and build a culture of defense that the Rockets haven’t had since Kelvin Sampson left.
There are just a couple of problems… James Harden and Dwight Howard.
How would Harden and Howard react to the type of personality and culture Thibodeau would want to bring to the Rockets? Howard had issues with Stan Van Gundy’s abrasive style in Orlando and it eventually came to a head, forcing Van Gundy out and I just don’t see Harden being a guy that would embrace Thibodeau’s fiery style.
1. Mark Jackson
Jackson is the guy I really think the Rockets need to bring in. He gets to take over a team in “win now” mode and players love him. He listens to his players and he allows them to be a part of the decision-making that leads to the on-court game plan. That’s exactly what both Harden and Howard need to be happy.
The only reason he was canned in Golden State was because he just couldn’t get along with the ownership there, but there’s no doubt that he laid a lot of the groundwork that led to the Warriors championship run last season.
Jackson deserves another shot at being a head coach in the NBA and if the Rockets can pull him away from his comfy job announcing, they need to do it.
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