Jeff Bzdelik

Rockets Notes: Carmelo, MCW, Paul, Bzdelik

While there has been no resolution yet to the Carmelo Anthony situation in Houston, the uncertainty surrounding the 10-time All-Star hasn’t been a distraction for the rest of the Rockets, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“In this league, man, you’ve seen it all, especially the vets,” forward P.J. Tucker said. “You see all kinds of crazy situations. There’s different things going on. You’re a professional. You go out. You play the other team. The situation is unfortunate, but in this league, you got to say, ‘Who’s up next,’ get ready to play and go out and play your (butt) off.”

As Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com relays, league sources still believe that Anthony has played his last game with the Rockets.

As we wait to see what happens with Carmelo, let’s round up a few more items on the Rockets…

  • Within his look at the Rockets’ offseason changes, MacMahon observes that Michael Carter-Williams has been just as disappointing as Anthony, with Houston having been outscored by 45 points during his 97 minutes on the court. James Ennis has been better, but a hamstring issue has prevented him from developing chemistry with his new teammates. “I don’t think they’re all on the same page,” a Western Conference scout told MacMahon last week. “I think that’ll come. I think they’ll get it. It’s still a long season, still remains to be seen. They’ll figure it out and be fine.”
  • When the Rockets re-signed Chris Paul to a four-year deal this summer, they knew that the fourth year, worth $44.21MM, probably wouldn’t provide good value, writes MacMahon. However, they do expect more from Paul this season, with the veteran point guard off to a slow start. “That’s a lot to do with it,” Paul told ESPN. “I look at myself first in this situation. I know I’ve got to play better, and that’ll help us play better.”
  • One scout who spoke to MacMahon believes Paul looks “a step slow,” but CP3 points out that he’s having no problem creating shots — just making them. MacMahon also suggests that some people believe the Rockets are dealing with a “hangover” from last season in the early going this year. “We didn’t win,” Paul said. “So we can’t have a hangover.”
  • Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta personally recruited defensive specialist Jeff Bzdelik to get him to rejoin the team, offering a significant raise and making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistants, according to MacMahon. Bzdelik won’t be back with the organization on a full-time basis until after Thanksgiving, MacMahon adds.

Rockets Made Run At Frank Vogel For Assistant Job

The Rockets made a run at Frank Vogel earlier this fall in an effort to hire him to Mike D’Antoni‘s coaching staff, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times.

According to Stein, Houston viewed Vogel as a candidate to help fill the void created when defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik retired. Bzdelik has since come out of retirement and rejoined the Rockets, presumably eliminating the need for the organization to hire another assistant.

Vogel, the longtime coach of the Pacers, most recently served as the head coach in Orlando. The Magic fired him this spring, two years after hiring him. Vogel’s contract with the Magic was reportedly a four-year deal, meaning he’s still being paid this season and next season. As such, it makes sense that Vogel would take his time to consider all his options for his next job, rather than accepting an in-season assistant offer from Houston.

While it can’t be attributed entirely to Bzdelik’s return, the Rockets have looked much better on defensively lately than they did at the start of the season. After surrendering 115.6 points per game in their first seven contests, Houston has given up just 96.3 PPG in its last six.

Texas Notes: Doncic, Pondexter, Spurs, Bzdelik

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, the early-season favorite for Rookie of the Year, hasn’t needed time to adjust to the NBA game, writes Martin Rogers of USA Today. Unlike past European stars who have struggled with the faster pace, Doncic has made an impact right away, averaging 19.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in his first three weeks in the NBA.

Teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who made the same transition 20 years ago, believes Doncic has benefited from rules changes that limit the amount of contact by defenses.

“The game is easier to adjust to now than it was 10 years ago,” Nowitzki said. “It is less physical and more free flowing, so everything is set up for him to succeed and do well.”

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Veteran swingman Quincy Pondexter has a “50-50” shot at staying on the Spurs‘ roster for the entire season, according to Jabari Young of The Athletic. Pondexter, who signed with San Antonio in August, is the only player on the team without a guaranteed contract. He has appeared in six games and is only playing 7.5 minutes per night, but has been a positive influence in the locker room. Young believes his fate will depend on whether the Spurs decide they want to sign someone who has been bought out.
  • The Spurs plan to scout several players before filling their second two-way slot, Young adds in the same story. San Antonio gave one spot to Drew Eubanks shortly before camp opened, but has been keeping the other one vacant. Young doesn’t believe its being held for injured forward Josh Huestis, formerly of the Thunder, who is now with the Spurs’ G League affiliate in Austin.
  • The Rockets opted to keep the same defensive philosophy as last season despite a change in personnel and are bringing back associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik to try to make it work, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Bzdelik, who installed the switching-heavy approach that took Houston to within a game of the NBA Finals, announced his retirement shortly before the start of training camp. However, team officials convinced him to return and he plans to rejoin the Rockets at the end of this month.

Jeff Bzdelik Returning To Rockets

Rockets associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik plans to end his brief retirement and return to the team, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Bzdelik had spent two seasons in Houston and was the architect of a defense that has fallen on hard times since he left.

Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston spoke to team owner Tilman Fertitta, who confirmed that Bzdelik will be returning (Twitter link).

“We’re excited to have Jeff back,” Fertitta said. “He’s one of the great defensive coaches.We worked on him and I think the team is excited to get him back.” (Twitter link)

Bzdelik left the team shortly before the start of training camp in September, citing family issues that he needed to resolve. Those issues have been taken care of, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, leaving Bzdelik free to resume coaching (Twitter link).

It could be another seven to 10 days before Bzdelik actually rejoins the team, Feigen adds (Twitter link), but he notes the decision wasn’t related to the Rockets’ disappointing start and that Fertitta made frequent calls to try to bring him back.

After posting the best record in the league last season, Houston stumbled to a 1-5 start, with defense being a major issue. The performance was better in a pair of wins in Brooklyn and Chicago, but the team will still be happy to have its defensive specialist back on the sidelines.

Texas Notes: Bzledik, Harris, Barnes

The Rockets will be without the services of associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik this season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The mind behind Houston’s defensive improvement has decided to retire at the age of 65.

Wojnarowski adds that the departure, less than 10 days before training camp opens, will put the Rockets on their heels and many of Bzdelik’s responsibilities will be spread over the remaining staff.

Bzledik previously served as the head coach of the Nuggets, with a number of other teams in smaller roles and at several stops in the NCAA.

There’s more from Texas:

Rockets Hire Mike D’Antoni As Head Coach

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images

Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images

JUNE 1, 2:10pm: The Rockets formally introduced D’Antoni as their head coach at a news conference this afternoon, and confirmed his hiring in a press release. As Calvin Watkins of ESPN tweets, the team introduced Jeff Bzdelik and Roy Rogers as assistant coaches on D’Antoni’s staff.

MAY 26, 4:54pm: The deal will pay D’Antoni approximately $4MM per season, Wojnarowski writes in a full-length piece.

4:22pm: The Rockets and Mike D’Antoni are finalizing a agreement that will make him the team’s new head coach, Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reports (Twitter links). It will be a four-year pact that includes a team option for the final season, Wojnarowski adds. Houston is the only team remaining in the NBA with a head coaching vacancy.

The 65-year-old has an overall record of 455-426 in the regular season as a head coach and was named as the 2004/05 Coach of the Year. With D’Antoni’s forte clearly on the offensive end, the team is looking to bring in a strong defensive coach and is eyeing  Memphis assistant Jeff Bzdelik and former Wizards assistant Roy Rogers, Wojnarowski relays (Twitter links).

The addition of D’Antoni likely spells the end of center Dwight Howard‘s tenure in Houston, with the big man widely expected to opt out of his deal and become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The two reportedly did not get on well when both were with the Lakers and its unlikely Howard would want a repeat of their spotty history, though that is merely my speculation.

The Rockets also met with former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, who is reportedly close to joining the Knicks, former Cavaliers coach David Blatt, Clippers assistant Sam Cassell and Rockets assistant Chris Finch. Former Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina are also part of the process, with Messina having interviewed with the team last Saturday. Former interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and former Rockets guard Kenny Smith were also interviewed, but Bickerstaff withdrew from consideration and Smith was told he was no longer a candidate as the Rockets decided to focus on coaches with either head coaching experience or extensive experience as an assistant. Jeff Van Gundy was also mentioned as a candidate, but he and the team never formally spoke about the post.

Southwest Notes: D’Antoni, Bzdelik, Pera, Maker

The Rockets finished the paperwork for new coach Mike D’Antoni today and are reportedly close to hiring Grizzlies assistant Jeff Bzdelik, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Feigen adds that some contract “language” is holding up the deal for Bzdelik, who is expected to run the defense under D’Antoni. Houston will hold a press conference Wednesday afternoon to introduce D’Antoni. (Twitter link).

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • D’Antoni will begin to make decisions about his staff, Calvin Watkins posts on ESPN NowGreg Buckner and T.R. Dunn are two of former coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s assistants who are waiting to hear if they will be retained.
  • D’Antoni arrived in Houston earlier today and had kind words for his new bosses and players, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26. On owner Leslie Alexander: “He’s been voted a few times the best owner in the NBA. He continues to be that.” (Twitter link). On GM Daryl Morey: “[He] does an unbelievable job. I’m happy to be able to hopefully assist in it and be a part of it and try to get the job done.” (Twtter link). On James Harden: “He’s one of the biggest threats, period. Just a great player. So really looking forward to it.” (Twitter link).
  • Grizzlies owner Robert Pera took an instant liking to new coach David Fizdale during his job interview, according to David Williams of The Commercial Appeal. “I asked him what his goals were for the team, and he didn’t say, ‘Hey, I want to finish in the Top 10’ or anything,” Pera related. “He said ‘Championship.’ … That was one. The second is, as soon as we gave him the job, he’s heading out to the players. He’s visiting [Mike] Conley. He’s setting up meetings.”
  • Nineteen-year-old center Thon Maker may be a good draft gamble for the Spurs, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Maker was once projected as a lottery pick, but his stock has fallen because of his unstable high school background and because coaches haven’t seen him play against quality competition. He is now projected to go late in the first round or early in the second round, and the Spurs might consider him too tempting to pass up with the 29th pick.

Rockets Consider Silas-Hollins Pairing

12:52pm: The Rockets don’t expect to hire a coach this weekend, tweets Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com. The front office wants to take more time to consider its decision.

11:39am: Stephen Silas is getting serious consideration for the Rockets’ head coaching job, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The Hornets assistant was in Houston for a second interview Thursday and met with team owner Leslie Alexander. If the Rockets hire Silas, they would like to add former Nets coach Lionel Hollins as his top assistant, Feigen reports.

Silas “crushed” his interviews, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, and a Silas-Hollins team is being weighed against a possible pairing of Mike D’Antoni and current Grizzlies assistant Jeff Bzdelik (Twitter link). Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian is a candidate to join the coaching staffs in both Houston and Washington, Wojnarowski adds.

Only 42, Silas already has 16 years of experience as an assistant coach. The son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas was hired by the Charlotte Hornets in 2000 and has also spent time with the Cavaliers and Warriors.  The Rockets have liked Hollins for years and had hoped to add him to Kevin McHale’s staff when Kelvin Sampson left, Feigen tweets, but he was hired in Brooklyn before that could happen.

 

Grizzlies Interview Jeff Bzdelik

The Grizzlies have interviewed Jeff Bzdelik for their head coaching position, Marc. J Spears of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). Spears adds that Bzdelik recently turned down an assistant coaching position on the Kings’ staff for personal reasons (Twitter link).

Bzdelik interviewed with the Rockets today in Cleveland and Spears indicates that the interview with Memphis happened before that meeting. The 63-year-old coach has been an assistant coach with Memphis since the 2014/15 season.

Bzdelik was the head coach of the Nuggets for three seasons, starting in the 2002/03 campaign and compiled a record of 73-119 with the team. He also spent 11 years as a head coach in the college ranks with stops at UMBC, Air Force, Colorado and Wake Forest. He only made the NCAA Tournament once.

Mike D’Antoni Frontrunner For Rockets Post

1:30pm: Van Gundy is no longer a candidate for the position, Adrian Wojnarowski of the Vertical reports (via Twitter). The former coach and current broadcaster was interested in the slot, but he and the team never formally spoke, the scribe adds.

12:48pm: Sixers associate head coach Mike D’Antoni has emerged as the frontrunner to become the Rockets next head coach, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays. Though the offensive-minded coach has moved to the front of the line for the vacant post, a number of steps need to be completed before any contract offer is made, Feigen adds.

Talks between D’Antoni and Houston have been ongoing, but there are two other coaches who can be considered finalists for the position, Feigen adds, though the scribe doesn’t relay the names of those finalists. D’Antoni has met with representatives from the organization twice, including a sit-down with team owner Leslie Alexander. The 65-year-old has an overall record of 455-426 in the regular season as a head coach and was named as the 2004/05 Coach of the Year.

The emergence of D’Antoni is an interesting development and could potentially cause friction between Alexander an GM Daryl Morey. The owner reportedly wants the team to run an up-tempo offense, which is D’Antoni’s forte, but Morey is said to be seeking a more defensive-minded coach who will instill greater accountability in the team’s roster. A compromise may be in order, with Houston likely to add a strong defensive assistant to the staff if D’Antoni is hired. Grizzlies assistant Jeff Bzdelik is among the coaches the Rockets would consider for that purpose, but they have not interviewed Bzdelik nor been granted permission from Memphis to meet with him, Feigen relays. Bzdelik will be among those considered for the Grizzlies vacant head coaching position, the scribe adds.

The Rockets have also met with former Suns coach Jeff Hornacek, former Cavaliers coach David Blatt, Clippers assistant Sam Cassell, Hornets assistant Stephen Silas and Rockets assistant Chris Finch. Former Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Spurs assistant Ettore Messina are also part of the process, a person with knowledge of talks told Feigen. Messina reportedly interviewed with the team on Saturday, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Former interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff and former Rockets guard Kenny Smith were also interviewed, but Bickerstaff withdrew from consideration and Smith was told he was no longer a candidate as the Rockets decided to focus on coaches with either head coaching experience or extensive experience as an assistant, Feigen notes.

Jeff Van Gundy, who is also a candidate, has received strong support from Morey for the position, but Alexander reportedly has yet to be fully sold on a reunion with the ESPN analyst, who has been away from coaching since he and Houston parted ways back in May of 2007.