Western Notes: Durant, McHale, Watson

Rockets GM Daryl Morey said he moved rapidly to change coaches 11 games into the season in an effort to turn around the team’s season before it became a lost cause, as the executive explained via Quora. Houston dumped Kevin McHale, who’d overseen a 4-7 start after four straight winning seasons, in favor of interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff“Kevin’s long tenure with the Rockets by NBA standards was no exception,” Morey wrote. “He was an amazing coach to work with who did a tremendous job. I believe he is the coach with the best winning percentage in Rockets history. Since owning the team, our owner has had fewer coaches than any team in the league except Utah. Bottom line, we have great coaches at the Rockets and they stay a long time.

Obviously, given this history the decision to change coaches was not taken lightly. Our team was reeling at the time of the change — in just our first 11 games we had lost multiple games to nonplayoff teams, including two at home, and none of the losses were close, most were double-digit losses. In the West, you basically can’t do that for any stretch of the season and still reach our goals for the season. The prior year, for example, we had only two losses at home to nonplayoff teams the whole season — we had already done it in only two-plus weeks. I believed that if we waited until what would be considered a normal timetable to make a change that it would likely be too late. Our only focus is on winning and I felt a material change was necessary.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Kevin Durant is arguably the top available prize available in the free agent market this summer, and while he has yet to make up his mind about next season, Wanda Pratt, Durant’s mother, says he’s loyal to the Thunder organization, Ben Standig of CSN Mid-Atlantic.com relays. “I don’t know what his ultimate decision will be,” Pratt said of her son. “Where he’s going to end [up] playing has still not been decided by him. He’s still playing in the playoffs as everyone knows. I don’t know [his plans] so don’t say Mama Durant said [he’s coming to Washington] because I didn’t say that. He’s focused on the playoffs right now and he’s pretty loyal to the Thunder with regards to that. When the time comes, he’ll make a decision best for him.
  • Suns GM Ryan McDonough said the team didn’t formally interview anyone aside from Earl Watson but instead took two and a half months to examine coaching candidates, tweets Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix officially named Watson head coach earlier today, removing his interim tag.
  • The best free agent fit for Dwight Howard is likely to be the Mavericks, who can offer the center the more focal role he craves as well as provide an owner in Mark Cuban who can deflect negative attention, Jonny Auping of RealGM opines. The big man would in turn give the franchise the athletic center it has been seeking, Auping adds. Howard is expected to opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent.

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