2:49pm: Lucas’ bid to be promoted to head coach has continued to gain momentum, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who says that James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Stone are among Lucas’ “key admirers” in Houston (Twitter links).
2:24pm: Tyronn Lue was believed to be one of the top candidates for the Rockets‘ head coaching opening, but now that Lue is off the board, Houston is focusing its search on three other primary candidates, sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). According to MacMahon, those candidates are Jeff Van Gundy, Stephen Silas, and John Lucas.
Van Gundy, who met with Rockets ownership and management on Wednesday, extended those conversations with the team into Thursday, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) and Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
Within his story, Feigen wrote that the Rockets intend to have follow-up interviews with a handful of finalists. Based on MacMahon’s report, it sounds like Van Gundy, Silas, and Lucas could be the candidates brought in for those follow-up meetings.
The Rockets also interviewed Lue, Kenny Atkinson, David Vanterpool, and Wes Unseld Jr. for their head coaching job earlier in the process.
If Atkinson, Vanterpool, and Unseld are now out of the running and Houston chooses from its group of three presumed finalists, the team will end up hiring someone who either hasn’t been an NBA head coach for more than a decade (Van Gundy, Lucas) or is a first-time head coach (Silas).
The Rockets are completing their head coaching search amidst a front office overhaul, as longtime general manager Daryl Morey has reportedly stepped down from his position.
Houston appears to be staying in-house for Morey’s replacement, promoting executive VP of basketball operations Rafael Stone to GM, so the team won’t have to worry about an incoming executive wanting a say in the coaching hire. Morey is reportedly sticking around in an advisory role until a new head coach has been hired.