Rockets Rumors: Coaches, VanVleet, Lopez, C. Johnson, Brooks

The Rockets are in strong pursuit of Celtics assistant coach Aaron Miles, who worked under Ime Udoka until he was suspended by Boston before the 2022/23 season started, Kelly Iko reports in his latest mailbag for The Athletic. Sources tell Iko that Udoka, who was hired by Houston after the team declined its option on Stephen Silas‘ contract, is also looking for a non-Celtics assistant to join his staff.

Iko’s reporting came in the context of a reader asking about how adding multiple assistants might impact current Rockets assistants John Lucas II and Mahmoud Abdelfattah. Lucas has been running pre-draft workouts for the team, which seems like a strong sign he’ll be sticking around, whether it’s as an assistant or in some other capacity. As for Abdelfattah, Iko says the assistant coach has drawn “legitimate interest” from rival teams, and suggests he might have a new job if Udoka hires both targets he’s pursuing.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • They plan to be aggressive in signing veteran free agents with their projected $60MM+ in cap room. Houston is emphasizing a lead ball-handler first, with James Harden their top target, according to multiple reporters. But what happens if he stays with Philadelphia? According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has “often been linked” to the Rockets as a fall-back option.
  • Beyond a point guard, the Rockets are looking for help on the wing and in the middle, sources tell Fischer. They have been connected to Khris Middleton, but that seems unlikely now, as rivals believe he’ll stay with the Bucks. However, sources tell Fischer the Rockets are interested in his teammate, center Brook Lopez, who is set for unrestricted free agency if he doesn’t sign an extension first. Iko reported a few weeks ago that Lopez, who was runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in 2022/23, could be among the Rockets’ targets.
  • Fischer also confirms Iko’s reporting that the Rockets like forward Cameron Johnson, but hears the Nets have signaled they plan to match any “realistic” offer sheet for the restricted free agent. Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks is another player the Rockets like, and Fischer suggests he might be a more practical option.
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