There are expected to be a lot of changes in Houston next year, as the Rockets disappointed across the board despite sneaking into the playoffs on the last night of the season. Priority number one is settling the head coaching position.
It's no surprise then to hear ESPN's Mark Stein report that the Rockets have interest in two available name coaches in Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks.
But NBA coaching sources stress Houston has strong interest in the two most coveted coaches on the market: Tom Thibodeau and Scotty Brooks.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 13, 2016
Thibodeau was a Rockets assistant under Jeff Van Gundy from 2004-2007 before moving on as a Celtics assistant and later as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls from 2010-2015. He is known for his tough, demanding, disciplinarian style with a major focus on defense, which are apparently the exact traits the Rockets are interested in.
The Rockets, I'm told, are highly intrigued by the structure and discipline Tom Thibodeau could instill after a season of slippage in both.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 13, 2016
Houston is also interested in another former Rocket, Scotty Brooks, who was a back-up point guard for the franchise during the "Clutch City" championship years. Brooks went on to be a successful assistant coach for the Nuggets and Kings before moving on to the Oklahoma City Thunder, where he later became head coach from 2008-2015.
Brooks led the Thunder to the NBA Finals once and the Western Conference Finals once, while missing the playoffs only a single time in his six full seasons as head coach. He's intriguing to the Rockets for two reasons.
First, Brooks has been long mentioned as one of Kevin Durant's favorite coaches, and with the Rockets said to be dipping their toes in the KD free agent pool as soon as the season ends, this could be part of a delicious enticement to lure Durant over to the Rockets.
The second is his familiarity with James Harden during their seasons spent together in Oklahoma City. He was able to coax the best out of Harden in a 6th-man role with the Thunder, which was The Beard's springboard to eventual superstardom with the Rockets.
Yet Houston would also have great interest in Scotty Brooks, who's not only a popular former Rocket but knows James Harden as well as anyone— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 13, 2016
There's also one other option being discussed, and that's the retention of current interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. The team is said to be giving Bickerstaff additional consideration in light of the team making the playoffs this year.
Getting Houston to the playoffs, coaching sources say, will inevitably earn J.B. Bickerstaff greater consideration for the full-time post.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) April 13, 2016
The results of the upcoming playoff series with the Golden State Warriors will likely have an impact in the Bickerstaff decision as well. If team has a good showing, even in defeat (or gasp, actually win), it will likely earn the interim coach even more favor with the front office. Limp off the court with nary a whimper, and all bets are off.
So there you have it. Your three early top coaching candidates. None of them a surprise, really, but at least now the interest is confirmed.
Which coach out of the current favorites would you like to see in Houston? Tell us in the comments.