The Rockets will pick up their team option for coach Kevin McHale next season, a person with knowledge of the decision tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. McHale will return for a fourth year in Houston, where he’s compiled a .578 winning percentage in his first three years with the team. This confirms earlier reports that indicated Houston brass wouldn’t react to a first round postseason exit by cutting ties with McHale.
The Rockets finished as the fourth seed this season with 54 wins, the most since the 2007/08 season for Houston. Despite playing like a top tier team in the tough Western Conference, their season ended with a disappointing first round exit for the second consecutive year. Some have pointed to McHale’s coaching as part of the team’s failures against the Blazers, although plenty have laid the blame at the feet of star guard James Harden, who shot just 37.6% in the series while continuing to play lackadaisical defense.
The team is said to believe in McHale’s ability, and thinks the young and newly assembled roster needs more time together to become a contender. Last year, Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Omer Asik were new additions to the starting lineup, and Dwight Howard was thrown into the mix when he signed a max contract prior to this season. McHale has steered the team to a 10-win improvement on average over each of the last two seasons. His detractors aren’t impressed with McHale’s schematic skills, but many believe the all-time great post player is the best fit for a team trying to coax championship level play out of Howard.