Jeff Van Gundy tops the list of potential candidates for the Rockets head coaching job, league sources told Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix of The Vertical. Still, it’s not entirely clear whether Houston will have an opening, since interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff remains in place as the Rockets compete in the first round of the playoffs against the Warriors. The team won’t begin its search until it’s finished with the playoffs, according to Wojnarowski and Mannix. Bickerstaff reportedly enhanced his chances of keeping the job significantly when he guided the Rockets into the playoffs. The team is also interested in Scott Brooks and Tom Thibodeau, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported previously.
Van Gundy lives in Houston, as Wojnarowski and Mannix point out. He coached the Rockets from 2003-2007 before he and the team parted ways at the end of the 2006/07 season. The job was his last as an NBA head coach, but he’s remained a prominent candidate for openings around the league. He’s reportedly scheduled to interview for the Timberwolves vacancy today and, along with Thibodeau, is one of two front-runners for that gig. The Nets apparently had interest as well before they hired Kenny Atkinson.
Thibodeau appears keener than Van Gundy is on the idea of the coach/executive role that Minnesota is considering, as Wojnarowski and Mannix detail, while the Wizards are reportedly the favorites to land Scott Brooks, so it makes sense that Van Gundy has taken the lead for Houston. The heavily favored Warriors blew out the Rockets in Game 1 of their series on Saturday, and Houston’s season could end as early as Sunday in the event of a sweep.
The failure to advance past the first round was perhaps Van Gundy’s chief shortcoming when he was coach of the Rockets. The team made the playoffs in three of his four seasons but never won a series. He finished 182-146 in the regular season and 7-12 in the postseason with Houston.
Would Van Gundy be the right choice for the Rockets? Leave a comment to have your say.