Les Alexander is to blame for the Rockets coaching problem.
This is a three part series delivering "hot takes" and putting several key members of the Houston Rockets organization "on blast" for stumbling through the process of finding a new head coach.
"NBA owner" is regularly defined by courtside fits of excitement, over-involvement in day-to-day operations or a futile quest to get things right. None of those come close to fitting owner of the Houston Rockets Les Alexander.
Flying under the radar and hiring Daryl Morey to alter the way all front offices approach their decisions has allowed Alexander to quietly accumulate accolades. During the Rockets' financial, front office and on-court success Alexander has built a reputation as one of the five best owners in the league.
One month into a flailing search for a new head coach Alexander's reputation is at stake:
"Alexander vowed to ESPN last month that he would take a more active role in this coaching search than he has in the past." ESPN
Daryl Morey is widely regarded as one of the best general managers and highest basketball IQ front office personnel in the NBA. But here the Rockets are searching for a new head coach with Alexander leading the way.
Alexander and Daryl Morey are at a clear loggerhead about what type of leader the Rockets need. Fans can excuse Alexander for thwarting Morey's efforts to hire former Rocket coach Jeff Van Gundy. There's Taylor Swift level bad blood there. The 2007 firing of the non-mustachioed Van Gundy brother came at the behest of Alexander after Morey had been on the job for a mere two weeks.
"ESPN reported earlier this week that Jeff Van Gundy received strong support from Morey to make a return to Houston for a second stint as Rockets coach, but sources say Alexander could not be sold on a reunion with the ESPN analyst, who has been working in television since the sides parted ways in May 2007." ESPN
While Van Gundy can be explained, coaches like Frank Vogel can't.
The all business former coach of the Indiana Pacers was one of the top available coaches after being released by Larry Bird, but Alexander nuked serious consideration of Vogel before his Orlando Magic offer arrived. Vogel proved in Indiana he can make something out of almost nothing, build a positive relationship with a superstar player and match wits on the defensive end with the league's top coaches. Seems like the perfect fit for the Rockets, but Alexander kept it from ever getting off the ground.
Rockets did like Frank Vogel but just didn't have the full support of the owner to merit strong consideration.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) May 19, 2016
Which lead to the current circumstances. Where it appears Alexander has decreed he will have the final word on the hire. Including a formal one-on-one interview with Mike D'Antoni. The meeting is as glaring as a signal of dysfunction comes.
Source: Rockets met with D'Antoni twice. A formal interview and a 1-1 he had with the owner.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) May 18, 2016
The team's owner conducting a one-on-one interview with a head coaching candidate despite possessing one of the league's top general managers. That's where the Rockets are at.
This is a three part series delivering "hot takes" and putting several key members of the Houston Rockets organization "on blast" for stumbling through the process of finding a new head coach. For the last decade the Houston Rockets have built a sterling reputation as a franchise who makes results-oriented decisions while revolutionizing shot value and NBA front office machinations. In the past month, that reputation has begun to fracture.
The month-long fourteen candidate search for a new head coach has painted a clear public divide between owner Les Alexander, general manager Daryl Morey and all-star guard James Harden. Current attempts to hire both a head coach and an associate head coach, independent of each other, mean the trio is trying to compromise. But the fact the Rockets don't have a head coach already guarantees one thing... at the end of the day, someone is going to be unhappy.