Per Jonathan Feigen (via SB Nation Houston), Rick Adelman will not be returning to the Houston Rockets next season. Already, the press is scrambling to name possible replacements, ranging from Jeff Van Gundy to Stan Van Gundy and from Mike Brown to Mike Budenholzer. We'll likely see a narrowed down list in due time - it would be nice for Houston to settle with a new head coach (and likely a new direction for the franchise) before deciding which personnel moves to make in the offseason.
A few thoughts on the matter:
-- I hate this for the players. They don't deserve it. They liked Adelman and clearly bought into his system as the pieces fell into place after the All-Star break. For the players, this is a disastrous move. They proved to themselves and to the rest of the NBA that they could win with Adelman at the helm. There weren't moral victories over the second half of the season - there were actual victories.
If anything, this is going to add only more confusion and worries to a Rockets roster that has already admitted how fed up it is with the idea that each player could be on the move as a trade asset any day of the week. At some point, this needs to become a more stable organization, one that players can trust will place faith in them to do their jobs without an uncommonly large target on their backs. I realize that all of the injuries have prevented stability to a large degree, but sooner or later, this franchise is going to further distance themselves from the list of ideal free agent options. That's not something to be desired.
It's a curious case, the line between settling and progressing. I can't fault Daryl Morey for wanting to make his team better. His is a mindset that I embrace. On paper, it makes sense to keep all options open and to keep making moves to improve the roster should better options become available. But for the players and for the organization as a whole, it makes for a shaky foundation. Let's hope that this presumed "star" player for which Morey has desperately searched comes quick.
-- There is no word yet as to whether Adelman was fired or chose to leave: all we know is that the two sides could not come to an agreement regarding Adelman's future and evidently chose to end discussions without a new contract. I've said it before: I wanted this decision to be Adelman's. I love what he brings to the table. He's a proven winner, and he has still managed to lead this team to winning seasons despite horrible circumstances.
Technically, Rick Adelman has done nothing wrong. He was in the wrong place in the wrong time. He was on a team with a presumed interest in revamping a declining defensive mentality and working with an abundance of youth, even at the expense of a few wins. These principles contradict Adelman's primary philosophy, so in that regard, it made sense for him to leave. I just hope it was at his own accord, as opposed to a disagreement over contractual payments. This should never have come down to money, because Rick deserves plenty of money.
-- Apparently, the Rockets will interview Elston Turner and Jack Sikma for the head coaching job. Each is deserving of a head gig, but I'd be shocked if either was promoted by the Rockets. To me, this is a philosophical change, a change in team identity. Turner and Sikma deserve interviews by the virtues of due process, but don't expect them to land the job.
-- Stan Van Gundy would be an interesting hire, but one that I would support. I'm not sold on bringing back Jeff Van Gundy, because as good a defensive coach as he was, his offenses were THAT bad. Mike Brown falls into the same category, but it's tough to gauge him apart from LeBron James, who supposedly handicapped Brown's coaching choices. If it's up to me, I be sure to take a hard look at assistants like Budenholzer who haven't had as much head coaching experience. Maybe it's just me, but I tend to think that the newly promoted assistants can add a personal flair to teams like Houston's, one that allows them both to grow together and build a strong relationship. Not every situation will work out like the one in Chicago with Tom Thibodeau, but it's worth a shot, especially given the report of highly coveted assistants such as Budenholzer.
That was a huge rant. To summarize: I'll miss Rick Adelman. He's deserving of any praise thrown his direction. But I also understand the circumstances of the separation and that perhaps a change in direction was needed. I'm interested in what you guys think, and I'll have more to say once we hear more information.