OCTOBER 22: Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Wednesday evening, Adrian Wojnarowski stated that Jeff Van Gundy‘s conversations with the Rockets have continued and that JVG has remained “the focus” of Houston’s search (video link). That contradicts Windhorst’s report (below), which strongly suggested that Lucas and Silas were more serious candidates than Van Gundy.
Both ESPN reporters at least agree that Lucas, Van Gundy, and Silas remain the frontrunners in Houston, in some order. It seems likely – albeit not 100% certain – that someone from that group will become the Rockets’ next head coach.
OCTOBER 21: “Circumstances have changed” in the Rockets‘ search for a head coach, making John Lucas the favorite for the job and seemingly leaving Jeff Van Gundy out of the equation, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. He made the comments today during an appearance on The Jump (video link), adding that Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas is among those still in the mix.
According to Windhorst, many people around the league believe Lucas’ strong relationship with Rockets players and new general manager Rafael Stone gives him the inside track for the position. Lucas, 66, hasn’t been a head coach since 2003, but he is a long-time assistant and has served as a player development coach in Houston since 2016. He had brief stints as a head coach with the Spurs, Sixers and Cavaliers, compiling a 173-258 record.
Windhorst adds that the Rockets lost several coaching candidates when GM Daryl Morey decided to resign last week. Tyronn Lue, who had been considered one of the favorites for the job in Houston, agreed to stay with the Clippers and become their head coach. Other potential candidates who have been identified are former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson, Timberwolves associate head coach David Vanterpool and Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr.
With the Pacers and Pelicans filling vacancies in the past two days, the Rockets and Thunder are the only remaining teams without a head coach. Windhorst notes that the Rockets don’t have any picks in the Nov. 18 draft, so there’s no pressure to hire someone right away to handle pre-draft workouts.