Mike D’Antoni Won’t Return To Rockets

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has informed team ownership that he intends to become a coaching free agent and won’t return to Houston next season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

D’Antoni had been on an expiring contract, having turned down extension offers from the Rockets prior to the season.

General manager Daryl Morey had said after Houston’s Game 1 win over the Lakers in the second round that the team wanted to retain D’Antoni. However, there was always a sense that the two sides may not continue their relationship, especially since Houston’s preseason extension offers were short-term and included incentives. That sense only increased after the Rockets lost four straight games to the Lakers and were eliminated from the postseason.

D’Antoni, who joined the Rockets in 2016, led the organization to a 217-101 (.682) record over four seasons and won at least one playoff series in each of those four years, earning Coach of the Year honors in 2017.

Despite championship aspirations during that time, the club never got over the hump and reached the NBA Finals, having been eliminated twice by the Warriors, once by the Spurs, and now once by the Lakers.

Having confirmed his departure from Houston in a statement (link via Woj), D’Antoni is now expected to be among the candidates considered by the Sixers as they seek a new head coach, per ESPN. Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer tweets that there have been rumblings for weeks that D’Antoni may be headed to the Pelicans, though an earlier report suggested those rumors may be overstated. He has also been linked to the Pacers.

The Rockets, meanwhile, are likely to take a close look at Tyronn Lue as they weigh potential replacements for D’Antoni, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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46 thoughts on “Mike D’Antoni Won’t Return To Rockets

  1. Sillivan

    D’Antoni should not take two 76ers and Pacers job because they want playoffs success

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      D’Antoni is 69 years old, so I’d imagine a ready made playoff team would be exactly what he’d want. A rebuild would eat into much of however long he intends to coach.

  2. Sillivan

    The final year with Suns D’Antoni won 55 games in the regular season and only 1 game in playoffs

    1-4 first round exit

    He was supposed to win 2 rings for Suns in 6 years
    He was supposed to beat Warriors without Durant and win 1 ring for Rockets in 4 year

  3. bowserhound

    Sad times to need a new head coach. Any other retired MVP point guards want a job?

      • If finals mvp counts Isiah Thomas is out there ready to burn another franchise to the ground

  4. Sillivan

    According to fans
    Frank Vogel is a hard worker and works like 15 hours a day
    D’Antoni works 1 hour before game time
    Very relaxable

    He is 69, Rockets owner does not respect him much

    • Appalachian_Outlaw

      The amount of work you put in really doesn’t matter if you get results.

    • x%sure

      Agree, Fertita made this call, since in his mind, workers should have to work, and he only inherited the relaxed Dantoni. Now he can decide and set the course his way, along with his numbers guy Morey, who might know where the bodies are buried but should not ask too many questions.
      Gotta say, Fertita is Sicilian not Mexican.
      Shouldn’t he relate to Dantoni, a guy so associated with Italian basketball?— but it was for the team in Milan, famous home of fashion, a different Italy.

      • Appalachian_Outlaw

        I’m not disagreeing with your take that Fertita made the call, but the making of that call was boneheaded. If one guy can do the same amount of work, or close to it, in an hour that takes another guy 15- I know who I think is the better coach. Long hours are wrongly equated to success and dedication, and no one should be asked to work 15 hrs a day.

      • The Howler

        Arguably, D’Antoni could see that this team has gone as far as it could go so he is leaving on his own accord. In addition, there are some tasty opportunities out there if teams are interested in him. Who knows there may be mutual interest that we don’t know about.

        • The team has become old and the future looks bleak for them. Rockets fans can pretend their team can win but to many will be passing them by next year. Next year they will be a bottom playoff team. The window will be shut after next year and it will be rebuild time.

  5. DeathbyDeathwest

    Houston is an awful job, where the “best case scenario” is being stuck in neutral with Westbrook and Harden. I guess Covington is kinda there too, sometimes.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Wrong. The Rockets will have their pick of coaches, no one will turn them down. Every candidate out there would love to coach two MVP’s and the team with the longest current postseason appearance streak. This whole thing is just to save face for D’Antoni, if they really wanted to keep him they would have signed him long-term last summer.

      • DeathbyDeathwest

        True as that all may be, historically you can’t beat GSW, and just got beaten by LBJ’s Lakers in 5. The other teams in the west are all getting better. Houston doesn’t have any money to spend and no productive trades to make.

        No matter who Houston’s coach is, that person is signing up to coach through either a dramatic blow-out between Westbrook/Harden or Houston/Morey, or run a team rebuilding after trading Westbrook for nothing.

      • GoLandCrabs

        LOL who cares about the Rockets playoff “streak”. They have not made a single Finals trip in this stretch. Harden and Westbrook are the most insignificant former MVPs in the leauge. They have both proven to be small in the playoffs over and over and over again. Of coure you’re still in denial. Let me guess next year is the Rockets year huh?

      • Black Ace57

        That team only has a year left of good play. Then Harden will leave for a contender and you will be stuck with an old Westbrick, no cap space, and no draft picks. The Houston job is terrible.

      • KnickerbockerAl

        Wrong . Whoever comes here is cause they will cater to Harden. They are capped out. With no trade chips. Unless they trade one of them. Nobody wants Harden. Houston is nobody’s first choice. It’s a flawed team. DAntoni got the most of what they gave him. The owner is cheap. He gave up Capela cause he want to pay the tax. With Capela this team could done something. You want a championship. You don’t care about tax money. Rockets are done unless they trade Westbrook. Harden will never be a winner.

  6. phillyballers

    Hard pass as a Sixers fan. Dude will want to trade Embiid for some role player.

        • D’Antoni would not be the GM, so your prediction that he’d want to trade Embiid at all, much less for ‘some role player’ doesn’t make any sense.

  7. Sillivan

    I said this and I want to repeat
    In the west
    Doc Rivers is 7th best coach
    D’Antoni is 10th best coach
    Both are overrated in playoffs

    • Reflect

      I agree both are quite bad. As a Celtics fan Clippers are just mimicking the same mistakes he made in Boston: offensive brownouts. He just doesn’t know how to coordinate winning offenses and only lucked into Finals Appearances when a point guard did the coordination for him.

  8. madmanTX

    Bye, Felicia. Rockets need a new direction and hopefully somebody who can teach defense instead of living or dying by shooting only 3 pointers.

  9. case7187

    Nate McMillan would be a good option for them but they need to trade one of the two Harden or Westbrook neither of them can win in the clutch or play D and they both seem to disappear in the playoffs or when games matter

  10. justinkm19

    It’s not a huge questions as to why he doesn’t have playoff success. None of his teams value defense. It’s small ball, isolation, and fast break.

  11. x%sure

    •According to BasRef Houston can go up to $9mil more before the taxline.
    •Centers abound these days. Aaron Bynes, Miles Leonard, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Juancho, & Dario Saric can hit 3s and might be had for that. •Jeff Green to re-sign too but is a perimeter player mostly.
    •Call Westbrook a forward and Nwaba a guard.
    •Hire a psych to analyze Westbrook.
    •An ex-PG coach (Billups, Lue) who demands may annoy Harden.

  12. Meadowlark

    Is there a bigger mess than Houston? Okay, you’re right, the Knicks. With Westbrook and Mr. Floppy you’re never going anywhere.
    Miles (sic) Leonard is a forward.

  13. KnickerbockerAl

    You can’t sign a player when you are over cap. Only a minimum player and draft picks. You can sign only your own players and go over tax cap. Every team has ME to sign a player. Which is at 9 mill. Rockets are capped out. Only mid level.
    DAntoni would be wise to take Sixers job. Their offense needs help. You move Horford for shooters and they are right back. DAntoni can help this team. Pacers probably go after him hardest though. Bucks had big ones. They should fire coach and hire DAntoni. DAntoni definitely gets this team to Finals

  14. WSnotAstros2017

    I do not blame D’Antoni for wanting out. The team choked and think management really did not want him. Even though rumors said so. If wanted him should have done something before this point. Talk is building small ball around Harden and Westbrook and I at least see those two still with team. Not sure on PJ, Gordon, Rivers, Covington, Green and even Carroll. Tyson think calling it a career. That brief moment was a shot to get in one final game.

  15. MikeWiz

    Worst coach ever. What team will he ruin next? He wouldn’t even be coaching still if not for Steve Nash making his system work all regular season. Mike D’Antoni and James Harden ruin the game each time they step on the floor. I hope they both go to the Thunder.

  16. harden-westbrook-mvps

    How exactly was this his decision now? I can’t believe how gullible most people are. His contract with the team expired, yet somehow D’Antoni is saying how he will become a coaching free agent rather than going back to a team that doesn’t want him anymore. Here we are weeks later and no one has hired him. Go figure.

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