The Houston Rockets have managed to swing the media carousel in circles once again, no doubt a purposeful move on the part of a club that constantly is reported to consider chasing -- for any player or coaching position -- anyone capable of signing his name to a contract.
Reports have listed nearly a dozen candidates for the currently vacant head coaching position, but doesn't this sound familiar? Remember the twenty-something players that the Rockets apparently considered pursuing at the trade deadline? Perhaps the team did pursue each of those players, and perhaps they will pursue each of these head coach candidates, but in the interest of keeping your sanity, I would advise you to circle three or four coaches to keep an eye on and stick to these for now.
For those of you who remain unsure about which candidates deserve your time, make no mistake, Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey is one of these coaches. Casey has reportedly been granted permission to meet with the Rockets following the conclusion of Dallas' first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers. Casey went 53-69 in a season and a half with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and when you consider the lack of talent which with Casey had to work during his tenure far north, that's a somewhat decent showing.
On the so-called totem pole of candidates, I place Casey as close to the top of the pole as my limited knowledge will allow. And sure, I can further research Casey's credentials at some point, but why not simply reproduce the seemingly gift-wrapped holiday boxes of verbal praise that have already been levied in Casey's direction? Here, take a look at a few cases:
Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer (the link above is to this piece):
This is a legitimate, knockout head-man in waiting whose basketball pedigree runs deep. While I usually wouldn't turn down the chance to have Stan Van Gundy coach my team, a person like Dwane Casey would at least give me pause.
"I'm shocked that we still have him here. He's that good," Carlisle said. "That situation will be addressed at the right time, but my level of respect for Dwane and what he's brought our team is extremely high."
It's difficult for me to properly distinguish Casey from other assistants such as Mike Budenholzer or Mike Malone, but what empirically separates Casey from many other assistant-candidates is that he has experience as a head coach. More importantly, Casey didn't succeed admirably nor last very long in his first stop as a head coach.
Normally, this might be a turn-off, but again, I'd like to emphasize the value that I place in coaches (in this case, a purportedly desirable coach) who, together with a young team, can grow and mold in the collective interest of proving legitimacy. How better to establish oneself as a competent head coach than to maintain a relatively lengthy tenure in one stop? What better a way to motivate a team than to be able to say, "I want to be here. I want to win and I want to win with you guys, or I may never again have a shot at this." I can only imagine how eager Casey is to prove to the naysayers that he wasn't given a fair chance in his previous position with Minnesota. Situations like these can ideally bring out the best in a coach, and thus, in his players.*
Here's hoping that Casey will be given as good a look as anyone available. Try not to disregard him for his dull name. I get it: "Dwane Casey" doesn't exactly scream championship rings and champagne parties (we both know that "Tom Martin" does, right...? Right?!?). But, all jokes aside, if I had to guess right now, I think Casey will be one of the eventual finalists for the job. He has certainly earned the chance.
*Please disregard the Detroit Pistons when considering this statement.