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Report: Mike D’Antoni’s chances of returning to Rockets next season are “slim”

According a report, the Rockets want a championship in order to retain D’Antoni.

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NBA: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few months after a lengthy, very dramatic contract dispute this offseason, Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni finds himself among rumors yet again.

According to Sam Amick and John Hollinger of the The Athletic, a source close to the Rockets doesn’t give D’Antoni good odds to return to the team next season.

Barring a Rockets championship that could spark a kumbaya healing of sorts and inspire [Rockets owner] Fertitta to open his wallet to meet that sort of moment, a source with direct knowledge of these dynamics expressed serious skepticism that D’Antoni would return after this season. To be more precise, the chances – per the source – are currently seen as “slim.”

Though the Rockets are just two years removed from their franchise-record 65-win season, a year they took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference finals, the report doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise. The Rockets and Mike D’Antoni were unable to come to a contract agreement this summer after the negotiations became very ugly and public. Bad blood, or at least what appears to bad blood, may already be between the head coach and owner Tilman Fertitta. There’s also been plenty of tension within the franchise itself, as mentioned in the source material, with rumors of a strained relationship between James Harden and Chris Paul swirling last season and in the offseason, and, of course, the Daryl Morey China Tweet and how Fertitta reacted to the situation.

As of now, the rumors are once again, and — unfortunately — hearsay. This isn’t the first time or last time, or even a unique situation, that a coach manning a hopeful contender is in the hotseat in the last year of his contract. I also say “unfortunately” because for the second year in a row, the Rockets and its fanbase will have to hear constant rumors and questions about their team losing a key part of its success. And with 59 games and four months left in the regular season, those rumors can really make the year drag.

In the meantime, the team still has plenty of work to do with integrating Russell Westbrook in the system and locking down their rotation. Let’s hope they keep focused through rumors.