Jeff Hornacek

Rockets Add Hornacek To Silas’ Coaching Staff

The Rockets have hired Jeff Hornacek as an assistant on Stephen Silas’ staff, according to a team press release.

Hornacek was the head coach in Phoenix for 2 1/2 seasons from 2013-16 and in New York for two seasons from 2016-18. Previous reports indicated Houston was close to an agreement with Hornacek and now it’s official.

John Lucas, who was reportedly one of the finalists to replace Mike D’Antoni as head coach, will remain in the organization as an assistant. Will Weaver, Rick Higgins, and DeSagana Diop will also join Silas’ staff.

Weaver was the head coach of the Sydney Kings in Australia after being named NBA G League Coach of the Year for the 2018/19 season with the Long Island Nets. Higgins spent the past two seasons with the Magic as associate coach/player development, while Diop spent the past four seasons on the Jazz’s staff.

Rockets Close To Hiring Jeff Hornacek As Assistant

Former NBA head coach Jeff Hornacek is “very close” to joining the Rockets as an assistant coach on Stephen Silas‘ new staff, reports Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link). Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle first reported that the Rockets were in talks with Hornacek.

A former shooting guard who made an All-Star team and appeared in a pair of NBA Finals, Hornacek transitioned into coaching in 2011 when he was hired as an assistant by the Jazz. He subsequently coached the Suns from 2013-16 and the Knicks from 2016-18.

Hornacek led Phoenix to a 48-34 record in his first year as a head coach, but didn’t finish above .500 in a season after that. He has an overall record of 161-216 (.427) as a head coach.

Since Silas is a first-time head coach, there was an expectation that the Rockets would want to make sure he had an experienced staff around him. Feigen previously reported that Houston wanted to get at least two former head coaches on Silas’ staff, and it seems the club has achieved that goal — assuming Hornacek finalizes a deal with the Rockets, he’ll join John Lucas, who has decided to remain with the organization as an assistant.

The Rockets also aggressively pursued veteran coach Nate McMillan, but McMillan is reportedly on the verge of joining the Hawks.

Rockets Notes: Harden, Silas, Diop, Higgins, Weaver, McMillan

New Rockets general manager Rafael Stone says he’s committed to building a championship team around James Harden, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN. There has been speculation former Rockets GM and newly-hired Sixers executive Daryl Morey would try to acquire the former MVP.

“We’ve still got James Harden. Our goal is still to win a championship, and if you’ve got him, you’re halfway there,” Stone said. “It’s incumbent on me and (new coach) Stephen (Silas) and the whole team to figure out the rest of the whole, but the key piece is there.”

Silas embraces those expectations and the pressure that comes with it. “I’m a win-now coach,” he said. “To not have to deal with growing and all that type of stuff, to think championship right away, is exciting for me. And I’m prepared for it and ready for it.”

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Silas’ contract is a four-year deal, Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston tweets. Silas was officially hired on October 30 after being one of the presumed finalists along with Jeff Van Gundy and John Lucas, who has decided to remain in Houston and join Silas’ staff.
  • As previously reported, the team has talked to former Suns and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek about joining their coaching staff. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle has uncovered a few other candidates that the Rockets are interested in hiring. Jazz assistant DeSagana Diop, Magic assistant Rick Higgins and former Sixers and Nets assistant Will Weaver are also possible additions to the staff, though Weaver is also a candidate for the Thunder’s head coaching job.
  • The front office aggressively pursued former Pacers head coach Nate McMillan to join the staff but he opted to instead join the Hawks’ staff under Lloyd Pierce, Berman adds in another tweet. Atlanta is close to hiring McMillan, though no official announcement has been made.

Rockets Hire Stephen Silas As Head Coach

OCTOBER 30: The Rockets have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve hired Silas as their new head coach. Team owner Tilman Fertitta referred to the opportunity as “well-earned and long overdue” for Silas.

“The success Coach Silas had with Dallas last season reinforced the notion that he is more than ready to lead his own team,” GM Rafael Stone said in a statement of his own. “The strengths of our core players are a great fit for Coach Silas’ system and ideology and I’m looking forward to working with him to find ways we can continue to improve our roster.”

OCTOBER 28: The Rockets and Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas are finalizing a deal that will make him the team’s new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Silas had been one of three presumed finalists for the position, along with former NBA head coaches Jeff Van Gundy and John Lucas.

Van Gundy and Lucas were rumored to be the frontrunners to replace Mike D’Antoni in Houston at various points during the Rockets’ head coaching search process, but the Rockets opted for a first-time head coach rather than a veteran with experience in the role.

Silas, the son of former NBA star and coach Paul Silas, was hired in 1999 as a scout by the franchise known at the time as the Charlotte Hornets and has since served as an assistant on a number of NBA coaching staffs. After spending four years as an assistant with Golden State from 2006-10 and eight years with the Bobcats/Hornets from 2010-18, he moved to Dallas in 2018, where he spent the last two years as a member of Rick Carlisle‘s staff.

Silas has received consideration for multiple head coaching jobs in recent years, having reportedly drawn interest from Indiana and Chicago this year in addition to Houston. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), the Rockets were impressed with Silas’ “offensive ingenuity,” as well as his pedigree as an assistant.

According to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (via Twitter), the Rockets moved “increasingly” over the weekend toward Silas. He had a Zoom call with many Houston players last night, which represented an important final step, since those players were all on board with the decision, a source tells Feigen.

As Woj points out, Silas will be tasked with coaching and running an offense for former MVPs Russell Westbrook and James Harden after having worked with a handful of other star guards during his career as an assistant, including Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, and Kemba Walker. He’ll also oversee a period of transition within the franchise — in addition to making a head coaching change, the Rockets have also undergone a major front office overhaul this fall, with longtime GM Daryl Morey leaving the organization.

The Rockets are expected to help Silas build an experienced coaching staff that includes at least two former head coaches, according to Feigen. The team has begun talks with Nate McMillan and Jeff Hornacek, and will likely make Lucas an offer to remain with the franchise, either as an assistant or in a new capacity, Feigen adds.

With Silas poised to become the Rockets’ new coach, only one NBA team – the Thunder – has yet to finalize its head coaching search.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nets Face Management Makeover

Trajan Langdon’s decision to become the new GM in New Orleans represents the third major off-court loss for Brooklyn since the season ended, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Langdon, the Nets’ former assistant GM and the reigning G League Executive of the Year, has been a popular candidate to move up the management ranks. He recently interviewed for jobs with the Timberwolves and Wizards, as well as the Pelicans.

The time Langdon spent as a player in Europe only adds to his value, Lewis notes. He has wide-ranging contacts throughout the continent and speaks five languages. He also has a scouting background with the Spurs and was responsible for assembling the Nets’ draft board.

Lewis sees Gianluca Pascucci, who serves as the Nets’ director of global scouting, as the leading choice to step into Langdon’s role. However, he is also reportedly a candidate to become GM at Olimpia Milano in the EuroLeague.

Brooklyn’s other offseason losses were  G League coach Will Weaver, who left for a job with Sydney in the Australian League after leading Long Island to the championship game, and Chris Fleming, who left the Nets’ coaching staff to become the lead assistant to Jim Boylen in Chicago.

Lewis mentions ex-Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek as a possibility to replace Fleming. Hornacek joined the Nets for training camp, practices and some road trips and may be interested in taking an official position with the team.

Coaching Notes: Suns, Cavaliers, Kings

The Suns let head coach Igor Kokoskov walk after just one season and Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link) that the team will also let go of all of his coaching and player development staff. Phoenix’s next head coach will have the ability to build his or her staff from the ground up.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Cavaliers are interested in J.B. Bickerstaff for their head coaching gig, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Bickerstaff, who spent the past two seasons as the Grizzlies’ coach, may “formally” be added to the team’s coaching search, which Stein hears is in its early stages.
  • As of Tuesday afternoon, Luke Walton‘s job with the Kings remains safe, Sam Amick of The Athletic hears. The franchise is working with the league to investigate the accusations against Walton and unveil the truth.
  • The Kings had interviews for assistant coaching positions scheduled prior to the allegations surfaced and those took place today with GM Vlade Divac and Walton conducting the meetings. Former Suns and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek was one of the interviewees, Amick writes in the same piece.

New York Notes: Hardaway, Noah, LeVert, Hornacek

Tim Hardaway Jr. started 54 of the 57 games he played last season, but he doesn’t mind having to fight for a starting position in camp, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. New coach David Fizdale has declared an open competition for all five starting roles, which means there are no guarantees even for a player like Hardaway, who has the third-highest salary on the team at $17.325MM.

“Everybody has to compete,’’ Hardaway said. “No spots are given. Everything is earned. So you’ve got to go out there and play with heart, play with passion. He’s going to make the right decision, put the five guys that he wants on the floor to start the game and we go on from there.”

Hardaway Jr. has a much longer relationship with Fizdale than any of his Knicks teammates. Hardaay’s father played for the Heat when Fizdale entered the league as a video coordinator in 1997/98 and served as a scout for Miami while Fizdale was an assistant coach.

“I just remember him being this little kid running around Miami Arena,” Fizdale said. “Now how my life’s come full circle with him. Now I’m his coach. It’s just fun for me. Because we have that connection with our families. … I really want to see him make it, but his deal is the same as everybody else’s: Earn it.’’

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Ongoing negotiations regarding a buyout for Joakim Noah are preventing the Knicks from making another roster move, Berman writes in a separate story. They want to sign former Columbia forward Jeff Coby for training camp, but already have 20 players and can’t make a move until the Noah situation is resolved.
  • The Nets aren’t considered serious suitors for Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler anymore and are happy with the wing players they have on their roster, according to Brian Lewis of The New York PostCaris LeVert, DeMarre Carroll and Allen Crabbe should also see major minutes this season, along with Joe Harris, who re-signed over the summer. “First two days of training camp, he’s been fantastic, quite honestly. I’m going to call it like it is,” coach Kenny Atkinson said of LeVert.
  • Former Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek is helping the Nets in an unofficial role during training camp and may continue to advise the team at times during the season, Lewis writes in another piece. Hornacek, who was dismissed by New York after last season ended, is a friend of Atkinson’s.

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Hardaway, Noah, Raptors

The Nets guaranteed Spencer Dinwiddie‘s contract for the 2018/19 season earlier this week as the guard looks to build off a career season in 2017/18. Dinwiddie recently returned to Brooklyn after spending the summer in California and China and he’s ready to get started, Tom Dowd of NBA.com writes.

“Scoring efficiency is the main area of improvement,” Dinwiddie said. “Overall development. I’m 25 years old, still got a lot of juice in the tank. I want to continue to push the limits of who I can be as a player and see how far we as a group, a collective, can take this thing. A lot of that comes from every individual being one percent better. Trying to do a lot of that.”

 In 80 games last season, Dinwiddie enjoyed his best year to date, averaging 12.6 PPG and 6.6 APG for Brooklyn. Entering this season, with the roster shaken up and without Jeremy Lin, Dinwiddie figures to have a shot to retain his spot. As Dinwiddie and his teammates prepare for the preseason, he acknowledged that workouts have ramped up.
“It’s all ramping up and we’re getting to a place where the season is coming up,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s about to be around the corner. We’re putting in some of those final touches, some of that final preparation to get ready.”
Check out more Atlantic Division notes:
  • After the Knicks parted ways with Jeff Hornacek, guard Tim Hardaway Jr. was unsure of the front office’s thought process. With David Fizdale on board, Hardaway loves what the new coach brings to the team, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. “He’s respected around the league,’’ Hardaway said. “He does bring that type of vibe and character around the team that makes you want to go out there and compete each and every day for him. That’s what we love about him.”
  • A lot has been made of Joakim Noah and his role — or lack thereof — on this upcoming year’s Knicks team. While his contract is an albatross, utilizing the stretch provision is one way New York can rid itself of the injured center. Danny Leroux of The Athletic (subscription required) explains why the Knicks should hold onto Noah for now.
  • The Raptors announced the coaching staff for their G League affiliate, Raptors 905.

James Dolan Talks Porzingis, Jackson, Hornacek

Kristaps Porzingis‘ recovery timeline following his ACL surgery remains somewhat unclear, but he almost certainly won’t be ready to start the 2018/19 season, and his absence could extend far beyond opening night. Speaking to Larry Brooks of The New York Post, Knicks owner James Dolan admitted that he still doesn’t have a clear idea of when Porzingis might be ready to return.

“I’ve been told everything from December to him being out for the season, so I don’t know what to expect on that,” Dolan said. “But we can’t just sit on our ass while he’s away. We need to develop a team and then integrate him into it when he comes back.”

With the Knicks facing a big offseason that will see them name a new head coach and make the necessary roster moves to move forward in their rebuilding process, Dolan spoke to Brooks about a number of topics. While he touched on the team’s plan going forward, the Knicks owner also revisited the past, discussing a pair of former Knicks employees in Phil Jackson and Jeff Hornacek.

Here are a few of the most notable comments from Dolan:

On hiring – and eventually firing – Jackson as president of basketball operations:

“The entire market wanted to me to hire him and when I did, the entire market said it was a great move. The only thing was, everyone said that I shouldn’t interfere with him. Three years later, everyone wanted to know when I was going to do something about Phil. The same people who told me not to interfere wanted me to interfere. But that’s OK. I just think that Phil underestimated the job.”

On why Hornacek was fired:

“I think Hornacek had the same kind of issue that Phil did in that he didn’t grasp how different the players are now in the way they think and deal with management and the coaches. I think he was way behind on that. But I think Jeff is a good coach and he’ll do well when he’s hired by another team.”

On the Knicks’ current coaching search:

“The coaching search for the Knicks is similar in a lot of ways to the (NHL’s New York) Rangers. I think the teams are in similar spots. We’re looking for people to develop players and to create a winning team. We have our lists of candidates, but the lists are still open.”

Knicks Notes: Coaching Change, Noah, O’Quinn, Beasley

The Knicks made the decision to fire head coach Jeff Hornacek and now the team enters the offseason with a huge vacancy and droves of roster questions. Hours after dismissing Hornacek — and assistant coach Kurt Rambis —  president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry explained their decision and outlined their offseason plans, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News relays.

Mills and Perry were honest in their assessment of Hornacek, noting the team wants to see an improvement in communication between the coaches and players.

“The evaluation of Jeff went over the 82 games. We evaluated everything — from practices to games to ability to connect with guys,” Mills said.” I think we need to be better in that area. I think there can be some improvement. It all doesn’t lay at Jeff’s feet, either. But I think that’s something that we could be better at as an organization, and that’s one of the expectations that we have obviously with our next coach, and we have for ourselves as well.”

Below are some more notes from the Mills and Perry end-of-season presser:

  • There is no timetable to name a new head coach, but Perry said the team would do the work necessary to find the right replacement. “It’s a very competitive market out there,” he said. “We’re going to do our due diligence and take the time necessary to find the right guy that we feel to take us on a long journey, hopefully.”
  • While Joakim Noah remains on a leave from the team, Perry said the team will revisit the situation to see if a return makes sense. “We’ll go and visit the Joakim situation again as we go through the offseason. We won’t take any options off the table for that matter,” Perry said.
  • Both Kyle O’Quinn and Michael Beasley, two of the Knicks’ standout players this past season, are set to hit free agency. Perry confirmed the organization’s intention to discuss a reunion with both. “We’re going to visit all that. Obviously, Kyle O’Quinn had a tremendous, tremendous year for us this year. Played very hard,” Perry said. “He’s a New Yorker. Represents a lot about what we want to stand for. So we’d like to bring him back. Obviously we’ll be in contact and visitation with Michael Beasley’s camp to see where that takes us.”