Prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season, the Houston Rockets unveiled their then-new campaign slogan, A New Age. At the time, the expression was the perfect fitting as the team prepared to usher in a new era of Rockets basketball. Seven years later, the slogan previously used to highlight the arrival of Dwight Howard to Houston could hold even more value in 2020.
Thursday afternoon, three men sat six-feet apart on the Rockets’ practice court to participate in a virtual press conference held inside the Toyota Center. CEO Tad Brown — the lone common denominator in the Rockets’ management department from 2013 — spoke on behalf of owner Tilman Fertitta to welcome Stephen Silas to the organization.
Silas, 47, was officially introduced as Houston’s next head coach — taking the helms from Mike D’Antoni who stepped down in September.
“I’ve been preparing for this all my life, it hasn’t been just coaching for 20 years. It’s been being in locker rooms for years when I was little with my dad and watching film. All the things that I’ve learned and the people that I’ve met over the years is what makes me ready for this position. I am super excited to be apart of the Houston Rockets.” — Silas
The son of former NBA head coach Paul Silas has spent 20 years as an assistant. He began his career working on his father’s coaching staff as a scout for the Charlotte Hornets in ‘99, and has since established himself as one of the league’s most intelligent basketball minds. Silas most recently held the position as the lead assistant under Rick Carlisle in Dallas over the previous two seasons, and was acknowledged as the architect for putting together the most efficient offense in NBA history — scoring 115.8 points per 100 possessions (2020).
From the league’s top offense to sixth-best in Houston, Silas’ goal is to enhance the Rockets’ offensive style of play without making too many changes as he makes his way down the Texas I-45 interstate. His intentions are to make minor tweaks to what has already been a well-oiled offensive machine, but the objective is to make the offense more versatile with less standing around and iso ball.
Silas’ hire will not mark the end to the Rockets’ small-ball tactics, but plans to embrace the unique style of play.
As a prodigy of Don Nelson’s coaching tree, Silas learned the small-ball strategy from the originator during his four-year tenure as an assistant coach in Golden State. In May of 2007, Silas experienced small-ball at its pinnacle when the Warriors knocked off the Mavericks during the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
In addition to their offense, Silas plans to put more emphasis on improving Houston’s defense that stood middle of the pack (15th) during the 2019-20 season.
“In today’s NBA, you cannot play one way. Small ball can be a part of it. On the offensive end, we want to be a little less predictable. On the defensive end, the same thing. Playing against teams that have different ways of defending is tough. I want to be that team. Put in a few little actions and be a little more versatile on the offensive end to let those guys play to their strengths.” — Silas
Taking over a roster that features two Hall-Of-Fame guards in James Harden and Russell Westbrook could be intimidating for a first-year coach. But for Silas, coaching a team with MVP caliber talents is right up his alley. His impressive resume of working alongside some of the league’s most gifted guards over the past two decades has helped Silas garner the respect of Houston’s All-Star backcourt.
Throughout his career, Silas has coached the likes of Baron Davis (Hornets), Stephen Curry (Warriors), Kemba Walker (Hornets), and Luka Doncic (Mavericks), but his ability to instill confidence in his players could be his most beneficial attribute as a head coach — a trait inherited from his father.
“One of the greatest gifts my dad had, he always gave his players so much confidence to play well — and I got some of that from him. I’ve always tried to do that as an assistant coach. The one guy that comes to mind is Jamal Mashburn. When we got him in Charlotte from Miami, his confidence was way down. After we had him in Charlotte, he became an All-Star player for us. The confidence thing is something I am going to take with me as a head coach.” — Silas
With a “win-now” mentality, there will be no discussions of a roster overhaul with the arrival of the new head coach. Sitting to Silas’ left was Rafael Stone, who was introduced as the Rockets’ new general manager following Daryl Morey’s untimely departure.
Stone says the goal is to find one or two complementary players to add to Houston’s core group, as the Rockets continue to pursue their third championship title in franchise history.
“We have this immensely talented roster, and in the NBA, you win with your best players on the court. The goal is to bring in another guy or two who could complement these players. We have really good basketball players, and as long as we can bring in talent, we’ll make it work.” — Stone
Echoing Houston’s 2013-14 campaign slogan, it is A New Age for Rockets basketball. And for the third time in seven years, a new coach will be calling the shots from the sidelines of the Toyota Center with the hiring of Silas.
A new voice means something will be different when the Rockets tip-off their 2020-21 season in late-December, but the primary object to win a championship will remain the same. A goal neither D’Antoni nor Kevin McHale could achieve during their respective tenure as head coach since the fall of 2013.
“For this to be my first head coaching job and being in a win-now situation, that’s great. I am a win-win coach. To not have to deal with growing and all that type of stuff, and to think championship right away, it is exciting to me. I am prepared for it. And I am ready for it.” — Silas