Shortly after announcing the firing of head coach Kevin Mchale, the Rockets named former McHale assistant J.B. Bickerstaff as the interim head man, with former assistant Chris Finch moving up as Bickerstaff's right hand guy.
J.B. Bickerstaff, will become interim head coach, league sources tell Yahoo. Assistant Chris Finch will become associate head coach.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 18, 2015
Bickerstaff, the son former NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff, was hired back in July of 2011 and had been on the McHale staff since the beginning. He does have a top reputation in NBA circles and was widely regarded as a future head coach candidate.
"There are no assurances long-term for Bickerstaff in Houston, but he has the opportunity to earn the job on a full-time basis."
If Bickerstaff can somehow get this early-season implosion turned around, he'll not only earn himself the remainder of the season, but a long-term deal as well.
His number one task will be getting the team to play more inspired basketball. If he can do that, there's no denying the Rockets have the talent to go on a run. Hopefully, Bickerstaff's defensive acumen will force a re-committal of the entire squad to better focus in that area as well.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey confirmed that McHale was having trouble reaching the players, so hopefully a new (yet familiar) voice can gain some traction.
Morey said it was a tough decision and changes will be made to help team win. "The team was not responding to Kevin McHale."— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) November 18, 2015
And it also sounds like if the team continues to struggle, he's prepared for more changes if necessary. Don't rule out a mega-deal if Morey can find a partner to make the salaries work (the Rockets are up against the cap and can't take on additional salary, save just a couple mil) and the team continues to underperform.
But for now, Bickerstaff gives it a go with the current roster construction and a boss that completely understands the expectations this team had coming in to the season, how much they've underachieved, and the pressure that comes with that.
Before joining the Rockets, Bickerstaff spent three seasons as an assistant with the Charlotte Bobcats and four as an assistant with the Minnesota Timberwolves.