In a total shocker of a move, the Houston Rockets have reportedly “let go” assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
Jeff Bzdelik, the Rockets associate head coach who guided the defensive improvement last season, was let go today, a person with knowledge of the decision said.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) May 18, 2019
Bzdelik was the primary architect of Houston’s switching defensive scheme that was meant to counter the Golden State Warriors, and this move comes as a complete surprise. Especially considering that Bzdelik retired last summer, and Houston owner Tillman Fertitta reportedly talked him out of of it by dangling a huge raise as a carrot.
For the team to turn around and get rid of Bzdelik less than a year removed from giving him a raise is a curious move to say the least.
My initial reaction was that it was a possible scapegoat move by the Houston front office, but a follow-up tweet by Feigen suggests that Bzdelik was wavering on whether to come back to the team again next year anyway.
Asked about his thinking for next season after initially retiring last season, Bzdelik had been publicly noncommittal about his plans.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) May 18, 2019
This is certainly bad news for the Rockets, as Bzdelik turned the team into one of the league’s top defensive teams in 2017-2018. His return from retirement also coincided with Houston’s emergence from the defensive doldrums this past season, and the Rockets were a top three defensive team after the All-Star break.
It remains to be seen whether Houston will replace Bzdelik or simply rely on assistant coach Roy Rogers for defensive implementation, but there you have it, Rockets fans. The first big change of the offseason. And it’s not a good one.