Rockets coaching candidates had better be prepared to discuss defense and team chemistry in their job interviews, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. GM Daryl Morey offered few clues beyond that in a press conference this week as the team decides whether to replace interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff. Owner Leslie Alexander is a strong believer in an up-tempo attack with a heavy emphasis on 3-pointers, but Morey said running that system won’t be a prerequisite for the next coach. The Rockets are known as pioneers of analytics in the NBA, but none of Morey’s coaches has been a strong believer in numbers. Feigen notes that every coach Alexander has hired came to Houston with previous head coaching experience but adds that the organization targeted several assistants before hiring Kevin McHale and is expected to do so again. The writer mentions ex-head coaches Jeff Van Gundy, Lionel Hollins and Jeff Hornacek as possibilities, along with Adrian Griffin, Ettore Messina, Jay Larranaga and Jim Boylen.
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Pelicans GM Dell Demps and his staff are preparing for the draft and free agency, even though the team hasn’t confirmed that Demps will keep his job, tweets Scott Kushner of The Advocate.
- The Mavericks can offer one max contract to free agents this summer and possibly a second if Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons follow Deron Williams and opt out for next season, writes Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post. Dallas entered the offseason expecting to have at least $32MM to spend, but that number could rise closer to $60MM if Nowitzki, Parsons and Williams all opt out. Bontemps notes that Dallas is counting on landing an elite free agent this summer after last year’s near miss with DeAndre Jordan. He adds that owner Mark Cuban is trying to surround Nowitzki, who’s likely to remain, with as much talent as possible before he retires.
- Dwain Price of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram suggests Rockets center Dwight Howard is the first name on the Mavericks‘ free agent wish list. Price believes Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Chicago’s Pau Gasol and Atlanta’s Al Horford are other centers Dallas will target if it can’t land Howard.