A few weeks back, it was reported by Mark Berman at the New York Post that the Houston Rockets were interested in Tom Thibodeau as a head coach in the event that current head coach Mike D’Antoni did not return to the team when his contract expires at the conclusion of this season.
Well now, again according to Berman, the interest appears to be mutual, despite the fact that Houston’s season is likely to last longer than some of the other franchises with potential openings. Berman said:
Sources told The Post that Thibodeau would have had interest in the Rockets job with Mike D’Antoni set to become a free agent after the Orlando restart.”
The Rockets were also reportedly interested in former Houston head coach Jeff Van Gundy, so the big question that remains is whether or not D’Antoni returns at season’s end. According to Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, that decision is solely in the hands of GM Daryl Morey. Fertitta told the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen:
“I think I have one of the NBA’s great coaches in Mike D’Antoni. And I think I have one of the best basketball ops groups, Daryl and his whole team. Personally, I love Mike. But I’m going to leave it up to the general manager. I surely would like to have Mike back. If Daryl wants to have Mike back, I’m sure Mike is going to be back.”
The biggest factor in D’Antoni’s return will likely be how the Rockets finish this season. When the league starts back up next month, Houston is assured a playoff spot. How far they make it in this strangest of NBA seasons is anyone’s guess, but should they falter and D’Antoni exits, it appears Thibs is waiting in the wings, ready to pounce.