If you ask Fran Blinebury, it appears as if Rick Adelman is on his way out of Houston:
To hear the scuttlebutt, Alexander has already seen enough of coach Rick Adelman and after four seasons is ready to move on.
It will go down as one of the most curious divorce cases in history, where the party that files the papers has irreconcilable differences that are equally inexplicable.
For now, Blinebury is the sole provider of the portal into Leslie Alexander's mind. There is no Being Leslie Alexander without Blinebury's uncovering of the man-sized hole that leads us there. Now that we're inside, figuring out how exactly to make ourselves comfortable, we need to take a moment and realize that this sort of gossip doesn't normally escape Toyota Center offices. Then again, after two "meh" seasons if you grade solely by record, it's only natural for tension to build and seep into the media at some point.
There are two conclusions I can draw for Alexander to want to force Adelman out of town:
1. Alexander does not believe that Adelman has properly engaged the youth movement.
2. Alexander wants wins, period. If he must be stubborn enough to overlook the details of why these playoff seasons were not achieved, so be it. Results are results. Some people just need change for change's sake.
In the article, Adelman offers a counter to my second possible reason:
"What team loses two people of that stature in basically a two-year type of period?" Adelman asked. "You just can't lose those types of people. You can't do it. It's impossible. It's like the Lakers losing Kobe and Gasol. I don't think you're gonna replace those guys real quick."
Adelman makes a statement with which any rational basketball fan should agree. Picture the Lakers without Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. That's an ugly picture, a team that would win far less games than the Adelman-led makeshift roster did over the last two years.
If Blinebury is to be believed, however, the front office has played blind to the elephant in the room:
What's shocking is the lack of respect that the Rockets front office has shown Adelman, refusing to acknowledge that he's kept the team competitive in an almost impossible situation and refusing to talk about the future.
Interesting. More on this in a moment.
To address point number one: what's difficult to believe about this assertion is that you wouldn't normally hear such a claim from an owner. Owners pay the bills. If the team wins, great. If the team doesn't win, it's a delayed return due to predictably poor attendance and an overall lack of interest in the team by the fanbase. That's the way it works. As such, I can't see Alexander jumping to play the younger guys at the expense of wins.
But perhaps I'm wrong about ol' Les. Perhaps Alexander -- owner of two championship rings -- is looking at the big picture. Perhaps he's different. Is he one to break the mold and embrace rebuilding in the hope that a short-term losing team could yield larger dividends in the future? Maybe.
Obviously, Adelman doesn't think the same way. It's a toss-up as to who would be right should such an argument unfold. Hypothetically, each would have a legitimate case as to what the future of the team should be. To rebuild at the expense of wins? Or to reload at the expense of a potentially brighter future?
Option one is possible, sure, but what about option two? For starters, I don't believe Alexander to be oblivious to context. It doesn't take his courtside seat to realize how many obstacles the Rockets have needed to overcome in order to win games over the last two seasons. But perhaps the marginal record has nothing to do with Alexander's distaste of Adelman. Could it be that Alexander has finally grown old of Adelman's genius offensive schemes that have seemingly come packaged with poor defensive play? Does Alexander yearn for the days of stout defense that defined the Jeff Van Gundy era?
(Mind you, Van Gundy was fired despite his winning ways. This is nothing new for those of us who were here for that situation.)
This is the question most intriguing to me, especially after Blinebury uncovers a potential coaching candidate should Adelman be sent packing:
Alexander has a history of chasing big name players and coaches and also chasing hot trends. It says here he'll look to follow the instant success of rookie head coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago by trying to uncover the next crackerjack assistant ready to move up.
Hello, Mike Budenholzer in San Antonio.
Mike Budenholzer. He's the man largely responsible for the Spurs' defensive prowess ever since becoming an assistant at the beginning of the 1996-1997 season. If defense has turned the Chicago Bulls around in a jiffy, perhaps it could do the same for the Rockets. Adding a star player would help, too, but only one step can be taken at a time. This could be the first move that Alexander makes on his way back to the playoffs.
I've always been one to think that Elston Turner would take over for Adelman should he decide to leave, but if Adelman is instead sentenced to walk the plank against his own accord, it wouldn't make sense for one of his assistants to take the reigns. If it's a scheme change that Alexander wants, taking a piece from the old pie wouldn't be prudent.
All of this said, there is one glaring problem with Alexander's offense-to-defense strategy, should I be correct in my assumption: what has Adelman had to work with defensively? Adelman has never been a poor defensive coach. His strengths lie in his offensive schemes, but until these past two seasons, his squads have been capable defenders. So what's the common denominator? Ah, yes. The Rockets still don't have a true center. How many of those does Tom Thibodeau have? Two.
Put it this way. If Daryl Morey isn't able to find Adelman a legitimate big body by the time he makes his coaching decision, the old ball coach may be on his way out. Or, even worse, Alexander may not choose to wait too long to get the ball rolling on the search for a replacement. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that. As I've written before, I think the future should rest in Adelman's hands, should he decide to return.
We'll have more on this develops. I'm not one to normally quote from one story alone, but given the numerous outlets that have reported trouble in the Houston front office -- not to mention that nearly EVERYONE's contract is up -- it sounds as if there could be some big changes this coming offseason.
(For a great look at Budenholzer -- someone we'll analyze in more depth should he become a legitimate candidate for a job that has yet to be vacated -- check out this piece from Tom Ziller over at Sactown Royalty).