Ime Udoka is quickly filling out his coaching staff for the upcoming 2023-24 season. Since being hired several weeks ago, Udoka has brought in Royal Ivey, former University of Texas standout, NBA player, and current NBA assistant. Saturday, Udoka brought in several familiar faces as he continued to fill out his staff.
Sources: Celtics assistants Ben Sullivan, Mike Moser and Garrett Jackson are joining Ime Udoka’s staff on the Rockets, @hoopshype has learned. Celtics assistant Aaron Miles has drawn interest from the Rockets and other teams. Jarrell Christian has also drawn interest from teams.— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) June 3, 2023
Udoka had built great relationships during his one season as Boston Celtics head coach, and now he has added three of his former assistants with the possibility of more. Udoka bringing in his former assistant has made one thing clear Udoka will have a lot more control than Stephen Silas ever had. This isn't the only example and could lead to Udoka's influence tying into everything the Rockets do this season.
How Ime Udoka's control will influence the Rockets' upcoming season
From the time Silas was hired and James Harden wanted out, it was pretty clear the Rockets were going in one direction and one direction only, and that was as a rebuilding team. Silas was initially brought in to coach two Hall of Famers, Russell Westbrook and Harden, but when both decided they wanted to be somewhere else, the Rockets went complete rebuild. Unfortunately, rebuilds and coaches trying to win do not go together, and that was one of the many problems that occurred over Silas three seasons.
Any coach in the NBA wants one thing: to win games. They are not worried about future draft picks and salary cap space. That is the front office's job, which sometimes causes conflicts. The Rockets, for Silas last two seasons, did not make any significant moves during free agency as they eyed this upcoming offseason.
We also had reports that Rafael Stone would frequent Rockets practices and made decisions regarding rotations and strategy. Something no coach wants as this undermines what they can and can't do.
Stone was also rumored to decide who was in the rotation and who was not. The most talked about example of this was the decision to bring John Wall off the bench, a decision that didn't sit well with Wall and led to him never seeing the floor again for the Rockets after his first season,
Of course, Stone’s alleged involvement in coaching decisions was not the only reason for the Rockets’ lack of success the last three seasons, but it did severely handicap what Silas could do as head coach.
That has changed with the hiring of Ime Udoka. As mentioned earlier, Udoka has brought in several of his former assistants, and it seems Rafael Stone also will base some of his free-agent decision on what will work best with Udoka's game plan.
I asked Rafael Stone about the role Ime Udoka has in #Rockets personnel moves, both in the draft and free agency.— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) June 2, 2023
“We need to understand his vision. It doesn’t make any sense to go get a great player whose strengths are in a style of basketball that Ime doesn’t want to play.” pic.twitter.com/ItauuH6dcb
The fact that Stone says, "We need to understand his vision" says a lot. In Silas’ three seasons, I don't think there was a time that Stone said this about Silas when it came to personnel moves. This will be a theme throughout, as Stone will base free agency, the draft and any future trades on Udoka's vision, not just his own.
It doesn't come as a surprise, considering Udoka was, at the time, and maybe even now, the most sought head coaching candidate. However, the fact that the Rockets moved quickly with the hiring of Udoka lets you know they will yield a lot more power to him than they ever did with Silas. We will see if this new direction leads to more success on the court starting in October when the Rockets kick off the 203-24 season.