By now, we are all aware that Rick Adelman will not be returning as the Head Coach of the Houston Rockets next year. Daryl Morey announced yesterday that Adelman and the team have mutually parted ways. It was quite the professional way to handle things, especially since the public handling of this could have become very ugly and divisive.
Even li'l Dickie Justice agreed that the split was "amicable" -- but more on this later.
First, a few comments on our now dearly departed Coach Sleepy. For those that may have been confused, I was not one of the ones hoping and praying that Adelman not return. Adelman has been one hell of a good coach for the last couple of years given the talent level on the roster. He won 40+ games every year with this team, even when Yao Ming's feet refused to cooperate and when Tracy McGrady refused to play upon advice from his gynecologist. We do need to remember one thing though - and this is key: Adelman came here to coach a contender. He was here to coach a team built around Yao and McGrady (for better or for worse).
Unfortunately, Yao and McGrady played barely one full season of games together. This was not Adelman's fault... well... maybe. I still think there should have been an investigation when Yao broke his foot against the Lakers. Adelman was playing Yao wayyyyy too many minutes and kept sending him out there with "sore" feet. Somehow that's been overlooked and we've moved on.
In the end, Adelman was stuck playing undersized centers and unathletic swingmen. And he got more out of a team led by Shane Battier and Chuck Hayes than anyone could imagine. The playoffs were a pipe dream the last two years once Yao was not available. Thus, the last two years were by no means failures and instead were a testament to what good coaching can do for a team. There's a reason Phil Jackson is worth 8 figures a year.
The problem, however, is that Rick Adelman had tunnel vision. He was coaching to win and win now. Normally, this is an admirable goal. The current iteration of the Rockets just happen to be one of the exceptions to the rule. The Rockets found themselves stuck in neutral two years ago. A mediocre team with no hopes of winning either a Championship of the lottery. Daryl Morey noticed this problem early on, and quickly began re-structuring the roster on the fly... bringing in players such as Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson, Brad Miller, Courtney Lee, and on and on. Yes, he also brought in Brent Barry and Trevor Ariza and Aaron Brooks and he traded away talent like Nicolas Batum for Ron Artest (and Joey Dorsey!). Now, in a vacuum, this is a smart strategy. The problem is that Rick Adelman is not the kind of coach that meshes well with a rebuilding project. In short, Adelman does not like playing inexperienced players. Ever. Conflict was inevitable.
Even li'l Dickie indicated that Adelman was none too pleased that Morey traded away Rafer freakin' Alston. That alone drops Adelman's value immensely. Though I'm not sure how Justice was privy to such internal discussions. Since neither Morey nor Adelman were talking about him, I'm surprised Richard Justice even took notes.
but I digress...
While the recent arguments here have devolved into a "Tastes Great"/"Less Filling" debate whereby you were either on the "Play T-Will and Thabeet!" or the "No! We gotta make a push for the playoffs!" side... I do believe it's clear now that Daryl Morey was on Team Thabeet/Williams the whole time, while Adelman had no interest in trying to accommodate new players into a system he knew was only going to be in place for 20-30 games. This is why the two reached an inevitable impasse and the Rockets are now looking for their next coach.
Anyone who suggests that Daryl Morey should have been the one to be fired is unable to see the forest for the trees. In the modern NBA, you do not win without an established superstar. You just don't. Having lost Yao and McGrady, the Rockets needed to acknowledge this fact and do everything they could to acquire said superstar. (And no, neither Kevin Martin or Luis Scola will ever be on that LeBron/Kobe/Wade/Duncan level.) If the Rocket have to suffer through a couple 20-62 years ... so be it. It must be done. In the meantime, Morey is stockpiling nothing but assets. The Rockets have the best collection of young talent in the entire league. They simply are missing that transcendent player. This is something that is out of both Morey's and Adelman's control at the moment.
-- This is where I beg and plead Dwight Howard to come to Houston when his contract is up --
Neither Adelman nor Morey have done a bad job. In fact, BOTH have been outstanding and we remain lucky to have at least one of them still working for the team. It's just that they had a different vision for what needs to be done in the immediate future. And Les Alexander sided with the GM. (Who is a genius... or something.)
I will now take this time to thank Rick Adelman for four years of excellent service. Simultaneously, I will beg and plead Les and Daryl to not replace him with Mike Brown. Please, please, please, for the love of anything that is sacred and holy -- DO NOT HIRE MIKE BROWN!!!