The Houston Rockets were the first team to make a change after the off-season as they decided not to pick up the fourth-year option on Stephen Silas contract. So when the Rockets started their search, they moved quickly, starting the first round of interviews.
They interviewed former coaches like Frank Vogel and James Borego and assistant coaches like former Rocket Sam Cassell and current Golden State Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson. During this process, Nick Nurse, who had been rumored for months to be on his way out, was fired by the Toronto Raptors.
The Rockets were reportedly interested in bringing in Nurse as part of their second round of interviews, but just when the rumors of Nurse coming in for an interview started to gain momentum, it was reported the Rockets had already hired their next head coach.
Some were surprised that the Rockets moved quickly on hiring Ime Udoka. At the time, the only other head coaching job opening in the NBA was the Detroit Pistons, who had moved Dwayne Casey to the front office. The Rockets thought that even though jobs weren't open then, that would change, especially when playoff teams started getting knocked out. Guess what? That is precisely what happened, and the Rockets moving quickly to hire Udoka will be the best off-season move.
Teams that have fired their coaches since the Rockets hired Udoka
This is why it was so crucial for the Rockets to move quickly on a head coaching hire. The Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks fired former Coaches of The Year after early playoff exits. The Philadelphia 76ers were knocked out of the playoffs on Sunday, and with several playoff disappointments, that job may be open soon.
BREAKING: The Milwaukee Bucks dismissed coach Mike Budenholzer, sources tell ESPN. Budenholzer is out after the East’s top-seed suffered a first-round loss to the Miami Heat. pic.twitter.com/wQp0Zk3lxi— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 4, 2023
Udoka made it a point to say how great of a situation the Rockets were, and that's why he decided to accept the head coaching job.
No reason not to believe him, but when you have two teams that can still compete for a championship the next season, and both have former MVPs, that would be hard for any coach looking for a head coaching job to pass up.
The Rockets knew this, so they didn't want to waste more time bringing in a head coach. Udoka, despite the controversy that led to his dismissal from Boston, was one of the best head coaching candidates. If the Rockets had waited, they would have been competing against more teams and teams with established star and superstar players.
The Rockets eliminated that possibility by moving on from Silas right after the season's final game and moving quickly to hire the former Celtics coach. The Rockets have a big offseason coming up, the most important offseason in the last three seasons. They have the NBA Draft Lottery and free agency coming up, but the most important decision was to hire Udoka when they did. It will end up being the best decision any team makes all offseason.