We’ve known now for a few weeks that there were three main finalist for the new head coaching job of the Houston Rockets: John Lucas, Jeff Van Gundy and Stephen Silas. And though no one out of that three has been officially removed from consideration, recent reliable reports have the crux of the search down to just Van Gundy and Silas.
According to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen:
I really think at this point, it’s going to be Jeff Van Gundy or Stephen Silas. John Lucas was and is a candidate and a good candidate that they very seriously considered and are considering. But I think it’s those two.
That should be good news for most Rockets fans, as I’ve been hearing that many weren’t in love with the idea of Lucas taking the helm. Personally, I’m pulling for Silas.
He’s been a top assistant for years, and he’s more offensive-minded and with the modern game more than Van Gundy, who’s been at the announcer’s table for 13 seasons now.
I also feel there’s a higher potential ceiling with Silas. We know what we’re getting with Van Gundy. An old-school, defensive-minded, hard worker who holds a career .575 winning percentage (430-318), but who’s ultimately come up short in the playoffs with both the Rockets and the New York Knicks.
I know some feel that a grinder like Van Gundy would help a team like the Rockets because he’s kind of the opposite of former head coach Mike D’Antoni, but his schtick can also rub people the wrong way, and I don’t feel confident of a total buy-in from James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Not saying that it wouldn’t happen, just that I have my doubts.
While Silas has no head coaching experience, he specializes in player development and daily game prep, and he has extensive and respected experience as a scout and in player evaluation, all of which would come in handy in the long term as the Rockets transition out of Harden’s prime in the forthcoming years.
I think his experience as an assistant will have him thinking more forcefully on the offensive end and installing some alternate forms of attack than what we’re used to now that D’Antoni and former GM Daryl Morey are gone. That will likely benefit the Harden-Russ partnership more than Van Gundy harping in their ear all day.
JVG fit with his era. Those Knicks teams, despite falling in short in the Finals in ‘99, were a perfect fit for his tough persona in a more physical era. But it’s not those days anymore, and I’m not very big on retreads anyway.
Give Silas his shot. I think he gives the Rockets the best chance of not only succeeding this year, but in years beyond.