1:10pm: The deal is official, the team announced via press release.
10:36am: The Rockets and coach Kevin McHale have agreed to a three-year extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. McHale entered the season in the final year of his contract and under a degree of pressure after last season’s first-round exit from the playoffs. However, Houston has started the season 20-7 in spite of the absence of Dwight Howard for a dozen games and an offseason that saw the Rockets purge much of their depth. The extension will be worth nearly $13MM over the three seasons, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link). There are no team options involved, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com, unlike the previous arrangement between the team and McHale (Twitter link).
“He’s done a great job and I think can take us very far in the playoffs,” Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston tweets.
Houston picked up McHale’s option for this season shortly after its playoff ouster last spring, a hedge between an immediate change at the helm of a still-fluid roster and the long-term commitment that the team is making now. Alexander said in November that he wouldn’t judge McHale solely on the team’s performance in the playoffs, and it seems the club’s strong start to the regular season was enough.
The Hall of Fame forward/center took over the Rockets before the lockout-shortened 2011/12 season, when the franchise was stringing together mediocre seasons just outside the playoffs in the Western Conference. Houston finished outside the postseason at 34-32 in McHale’s first year, but the Rockets have been a playoff team each of the last two years following the acquisition of James Harden in the fall of 2012 and Howard in the summer of 2013. The team has improved its winning percentage in each season since McHale’s first as coach, including this season, as the team is on pace to win 61 games.
McHale has gone 153-104 in the regular season over his time with the Rockets, who lost in six games in the first round of the playoffs in 2013 and 2014. He’s 192-159 in the regular season overall, including his time on the bench for the Timberwolves. McHale began the season as the only coach in the NBA on the final year of his contract, as Stein notes (on Twitter).
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