Before he committed to the Heat during last year’s free agency period, Jimmy Butler was a prime target for the Rockets, who attempted to go all-in for him on two separate occasions, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details.
Houston’s first run at Butler came during the 2018/19 league year, when he was being shopped by the Timberwolves. At the time, the Rockets were willing to offer a package that included four first-round picks, but Minnesota ultimately preferred a Philadelphia offer headlined by two affordable veterans who were ready to contribute immediately (Robert Covington and Dario Saric).
Still convinced that Butler could be the player that helped push the team over the top, Rockets GM Daryl Morey was prepared to renew his push for him during 2019’s free agent period. According to Feigen, the club was lining up trades to move Clint Capela and Eric Gordon in order to create the cap flexibility necessary to land Butler. However, despite the fact that he’s from the Houston area and is close with James Harden, Butler decided early in free agency that he wanted to head to Miami, closing the door on the Rockets’ pursuit.
Here’s more on the Rockets, with a focus on their head coaching search:
- While the Rockets have interest in Doc Rivers, they’re also preparing to schedule meetings with several other candidates for their head coaching job. According to Feigen, Houston had planned to begin scheduling those interviews by this Wednesday and Thursday, and the club’s list of candidates is expected to include Tyronn Lue, Jeff Van Gundy, Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., Stephen Silas, and perhaps Sam Cassell.
- Lue and Van Gundy were the first two candidates identified as possibilities for the Clippers, but it sounds like both coaches are high on Houston’s list as well. According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links), Morey wanted to hire Van Gundy in 2016 and owner Tilman Fertitta is believed to be a JVG fan, while Lue has also “received support” for the Rockets’ job.
- Kelly Iko of The Athletic explores whether Lue or Cassell would be good fits as the Rockets’ head coach, expressing a belief that Cassell may actually check a lot of the boxes on Houston’s list.