The head coaching position has been a disaster for the Houston Rockets. Kevin McHale was the first coach fired during the 2015-16 season after the team appeared to show no effort during a 4-7 start to the season. Interm head coach J. B. Bickerstaff looked lost as the teams stumbled into the playoffs.
Bickerstaff has already taken himself out of the running to take over full time in Houston and the Rockets have been clear about being very diligent in the process of hiring a head coach. But Houston may have had a prime candidate fall into their lap on Thursday...
The Indiana Pacers have decided to let head coach Frank Vogel walk:
Larry Bird: "Frank’s not getting fired, his contract is up and I just made the decision not to renew it."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 5, 2016
Vogel has been the Pacers head coach for Pacers for six seasons, taking over midseason for Jim O'Brien during the 2010-11 season. The Pacers were 250-181 with Vogel as head coach, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in both 2012-13 and 2013-14. He started as a video coordinator under Rick Pitino with the Boston Celtics in 2001. He served as a Celtics assistant coach from 2001-04. Spent time as an assistant with the 76ers (2004-05) and Pacers (2007-11) before becoming a head coach.
The Rockets were heavily interested in Vogel for their coaching position in back in 2011:
Worth repeating: Rockets interviewed Vogel for 7 hrs in 11. He had dinner w/ Leslie Alexander the night before. Worked with Morey in Boston.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) May 5, 2016
Vogel's time with Pacers has marked with defensive excellence. The Pacers have been in the top three in defensive efficacy three of the last four seasons. Vogel's strengths would help a Rockets team that has struggled to be consistent on the defensive end. The team also appears to be looking the defensive direction as Tom Thibodeau and Jeff Van Gundy appeared to early frontrunners for the job.
Where Vogel doesn't fit in is on the offensive side, the main reason it appears Pacers general manager Larry Bird is going another direction with their head coaching job. Bird said as much during his press conference today:
Bird: "I like the small ball... I think over a period of time it would have worked a lot better."— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) May 5, 2016
Vogel will not work out in Houston if he can't embrace playing small ball and living or dying by the three-point shot. James Harden isn't going anywhere, and Dwight Howard will likely being wearing a different uniform next season. The Rockets will be running small like it or not.
At the moment, the stars appear to be lining up for Frank Vogel to take over as the Rockets' head coach.