I'm sure this will provoke a measured and reasonable response from our comment section. The Rockets have given head coach Kevin McHale a three-year, $13 million contract extension. I know I wasn't alone in thinking that McHale's status for next year depended on how deep he could go in this year's playoffs, so the timing of this comes as a surprise to many.
It's tough being a head coach on the last year of your contract, no matter what league it's in. Couple that with this tidbit of which I was unaware, from Marc Stein:
Before getting this extension, Rockets coach Kevin McHale was the only coach in the NBA working on the final year of his contract— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) December 24, 2014
And you can kind of see one angle that might have factored into Daryl Morey's decision to extend McHale as a Christmas present. Confidence is tough to quantify in players, let alone coaches, but a big part of me believes that Morey wanted to get this out of the way so the head coach could focus completely on the team.
Under McHale, the Rockets have transformed themselves this year into a gritty defensive team with enough offensive star power and clutch shotmaking to beat anybody. A lot of credit goes to defensive assistant J.B. Bickerstaff, but McHale is still the head coach of an obviously well-coached team. That counts for something.
His personality and playing credentials also played a factor in it. Jonathan Feigen spoke to owner Leslie Alexander about the extension (it's official now, I guess):
Rockets owner Leslie Alexander on McHale: "We didn’t want anybody else going after him. We think he’s an integral part of the organization."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 24, 2014
Alexander continued: "He is a no-nonsense guy with the least ego of anybody I’ve ever met. We thought he’d be great long-term."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 24, 2014
One more from Alexander: "Players love him. He has that rare ability to be straight-forward, honest and tough. Almost nobody can do that."— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 24, 2014
What it doesn't count for, however, is championships. All of the above is true, but it doesn't make this decision much less confusing. Even though the Western Conference is as murderous (if not more so) as it's ever been, another first round exit with this core will not be good enough for many fans.
The NBA is all about windows, and if Kevin McHale's notorious issues with rotations and in-game adjustments (still very much present) contribute to another playoff flame-out, the Rockets' window closes a little bit more.
Of course, the Rockets could still fire McHale after this season. It's not our money they'd be wasting. What are your thoughts on this Christmas Eve newsdump?