Jeff Van Gundy

Rockets Notes: Clemons, Wall, Cousins, Wood, Harden, JVG

A few of Chris ClemonsRockets teammates know exactly what the second-year guard is going through, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Like Clemons, who tore his Achilles tendon on Tuesday, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, and David Nwaba have all had to attempt to make their way back to full health after suffering a torn Achilles.

“I spoke with him last night after the game,” Cousins said. “My only message was just take your time. One thing I noticed with professional athletes and injuries, we love our craft, we love the game itself. Once you have tough off, you’re always itching to get back and play that game.

“… We’re so used to playing through pain. Sometimes, we feel like we’re in a good place when it’s not necessarily the case. My only message is take his time, get everything right, he has a lot of basketball left to play in his career.”

The only silver lining of the injury for Clemons is that he’ll now be assured of his $1.52MM salary for 2020/21 — it was previously non-guaranteed. The Rockets, who are up against a hard cap, figure to keep Clemons on their roster since they don’t currently have the flexibility to replace him with a free agent if they cut him.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details (via Twitter), Houston could attempt to make room for another player by trading Clemons (along with a second-round pick) to another club. If the Rockets are uninterested in such a move, they’ll likely have to waive either Gerald Green or Bruno Caboclo before the regular season begins in order to stay below the hard cap.

Here’s more from out of Houston:

  • John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins will sit out the Rockets’ preseason finale on Thursday vs. San Antonio, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The club is handling both players carefully, since they’re coming off major injuries. Meanwhile, Christian Wood – who missed Houston’s first three preseason contests with a sore left elbow – is considered questionable to play.
  • It’s a bit of a worrisome sign that James Harden said during his media session on Wednesday that he hasn’t had a conversation at all with new Rockets GM Rafael Stone, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Even if Harden remains dead-set on being traded, a deal of that magnitude will require some communication between the superstar guard and the Rockets’ head of basketball operations, Iko says.
  • Sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post that Jeff Van Gundy probably could have had the Rockets’ head coaching job this offseason, but “was indifferent toward it.” Van Gundy was said to be owner Tilman Fertitta‘s top choice, though it seemed as if the team’s front office and players preferred other candidates. Either way, Van Gundy sounds happy with his current job, telling Berman that he’s  “real fortunate to be able to work at ESPN/ABC.”

Rockets Notes: Lucas, Van Gundy, Harden, More

Although new Rockets general manager Rafael Stone opted for Stephen Silas over John Lucas as the team’s new head coach, Stone has been Lucas’ “biggest backer” within the organization in recent years, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. Stone was a driving force in bringing Lucas back to coaching in 2016, when Houston hired him as its director of player development, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The Rockets and Silas are working hard to keep Lucas on the team’s staff and to install him in a more prominent role, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. A source tells Feigen that, as of Tuesday, the two sides were in “extensive talks” on a deal that would keep Lucas in Houston as a member of Silas’ staff. While no deal is in place yet, there’s optimism one could get done on Wednesday, Feigen notes.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Sources tell Marc Berman of The New York Post that Jeff Van Gundy “sent mixed vibes” regarding his interest in the Rockets’ job after interviewing with the team. Berman speculates that Van Gundy may have had concerns about the James Harden/Russell Westbrook fit or that he was just comfortable with his role as an analyst for ABC and ESPN.
  • According to Berman, some Rockets players were pulling for Lucas to get the team’s head coaching job. Marc Stein, meanwhile, says Harden’s top two endorsements for Lucas and Tyronn Lue. Rival teams are wondering if Harden is at all perturbed by the club’s eventual hire and whether the Rockets will become open to trading their superstar guard, Stein adds. Based on other recent reports, it sounds like that’s not an option Houston will consider this offseason.
  • In a pair of stories for The Athletic, Kelly Iko and John Hollinger evaluated a series of hypothetical trades involving the Rockets.

John Lucas Now Favorite To Be Rockets’ Next Head Coach?

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.

Rockets Coaching Candidates Knew Of Morey’s Decision

While Daryl Morey’s decision to step down as the Rockets’ GM surfaced this week, he said that coaching candidates were notified during the interviewing process that he was departing, Kelly Iko and Sam Amick of The Athletic report.

Morey made up his mind nearly a month ago, a day after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference playoffs. Family considerations were the main reason why he chose to leave at this time.

“I mean he just said, ‘You know, I’m kind of just struggling and don’t know what I want to do,’” owner Tilman Fertitta said. “To tell y’all, when we signed Daryl’s last extension, Daryl told me, ‘You know, I’m not going to always be here (and) when my last son graduates (I might leave).'”

Head coach Mike D’Antoni decided he didn’t want to remain in the organization on the plane ride home and Morey said all of D’Antoni’s potential replacements were told that he was headed out, as well.

“We’ve been up front with all the candidates that this was coming and they’ve been respectful to not have it get out early,” said Morey, who added that D’Antoni’s parting did not impact his decision. “It’s been baked in.”

The Athletic duo, though, said that it hasn’t been quite that transparent. At least two of those candidates were uncertain why Rafael Stone, the executive VP of basketball operations who is replacing Morey as GM, was leading the interviewing process. They were not directly told Morey was going to step down.

Morey had essentially been operating as a consultant the past few weeks, The Athletic confirmed.

Houston has interviewed Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue, Kenny Atkinson, Stephen Silas, David Vanterpool, Wes Unseld Jr., and John Lucas for the vacant coaching job. Lue has agreed to coach the Clippers, while Van Gundy, Silas and Lucas appear to be the top remaining candidates for the Rockets.

Rockets’ Coaching Search Focused On JVG, Silas, Lucas

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.

Tyronn Lue Gaining Momentum For Rockets’ Job?

Having met with Rockets ownership and management on Monday, Tyronn Lue is gaining momentum as a candidate to replace Mike D’Antoni in Houston, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon report.

As Wojnarowski and MacMahon explain, the Rockets may look to offer Lue a contract before his other suitors – including the Clippers – complete their respective coaching searches. However, Houston isn’t expected to make a move on Lue before meeting with Jeff Van Gundy on Wednesday, since JVG also remains a strong candidate for the position.

According to ESPN, Lue – who was identified as an early frontrunner to replace Doc Rivers in Los Angeles – has support from “prominent players” on both the Rockets’ and Clippers’ rosters. Presumably, that’s a reference to some combination of James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Lue will ultimately be the top choice for both teams. Van Gundy figures to be a “prominent” factor in the Rockets’ and Clippers’ searches as well, according to Wojnarowski and MacMahon, who say that JVG is well regarded by Rockets ownership and management and likes the idea of coaching in his “adopted home city” of Houston. Previous reports linked Van Gundy to the Clippers’ vacancy too, though it’s not clear if L.A. has scheduled an interview with him yet.

Lue is also believed to be a top candidate for the Pelicans’ head coaching job.

Rockets To Interview Jeff Van Gundy On Wednesday

The Rockets will interview ABC/ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy on Wednesday for their open head coaching job, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Van Gundy has been linked to the vacancy for some time and was expected to meet with the team once his broadcasting duties wrapped up for the season.

Van Gundy has extensive NBA head coaching experience, having led the Knicks from 1996-2001 and the Rockets from 2003-07. He had a 248-172 (.590) record in New York and led the team to the NBA Finals in 1999, then posted a 182-146 (.555) mark during his four years in Houston.

While Van Gundy has worked as a broadcaster for more than a decade, he does have some recent head coaching experience, having led a USA Basketball team made up of G-Leaguers during the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup.

It remains to be seen just how serious the Rockets and Van Gundy are about a potential reunion. There has been some speculation that he may be the club’s frontrunner to replace Mike D’Antoni.

It’s worth noting that Daryl Morey had just been promoted to his general manager role by the franchise in 2007 when the club parted ways with JVG. However, that move was believed to be spearheaded by former Rockets owner Les Alexander, with Morey said to be interested in re-hiring Van Gundy back in 2016.

So far, the Rockets have interviewed Tyronn Lue, Kenny Atkinson, Stephen Silas, David Vanterpool, and Wes Unseld Jr. for their head coaching position. A report on Monday indicated that team officials had also met with Rockets player development coach John Lucas about the job, though Stein says today (via Twitter) that Lucas’ formal interview is expected to take place after Van Gundy’s.

It’s not clear yet whether or not the Rockets will expand their pool of candidates beyond the seven currently being linked to the opening.

Latest On Rockets’ Head Coaching Search

The Rockets‘ pool of candidates to replace Mike D’Antoni as the team’s new head coach still consists of seven names for now, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. According to Feigen, the club hasn’t ruled out expanding the interview process beyond those seven candidates, but has been “pleased” with its meetings so far.

Houston met last week with current assistant coaches Stephen Silas (Mavericks), David Vanterpool (Timberwolves), and Wes Unseld Jr. (Nuggets), as well as former Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson.

According to Feigen, team officials have since met with Rockets player development coach John Lucas as well, and Tyronn Lue‘s interview is scheduled to happen today. Jeff Van Gundy is also expected to interview with Houston now that his broadcasting duties for ABC and ESPN have come to an end for the season.

It’s not clear yet whether the Rockets will be prepared to make a decision on their new head coach after completing their meetings with Lue and Van Gundy. As Feigen writes, it’s possible the team will want to narrow down the field and bring back finalists for follow-up sessions, but team owner Tilman Fertitta has been part of the interview process already, so it’s not as if contenders for the position still need to meet with him.

The Rockets are one of five NBA teams still seeking a new head coach, along with the Pelicans, Pacers, Thunder, and Clippers.

Latest On Rockets’ Head Coaching Search

The Rockets are scheduled to meet with Tyronn Lue about their head coaching job early next week, sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Lue’s interview with Houston was originally supposed to happen this past Sunday, but it has now seemingly been pushed back twice as the team takes its time and meets with other candidates.

The Rockets reportedly interviewed Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., and Stephen Silas this week and are meeting with David Vanterpool today. According to Stein, the club is also expected to meet in the “near future” with assistant John Lucas and ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy.

Once the NBA Finals end and Van Gundy’s schedule opens up, we should get a better sense of how serious the Rockets are about pursuing him. He has reportedly been on general manager Daryl Morey‘s radar in the past and was one of the first candidates linked to the Houston job, even before the team parted ways with Mike D’Antoni.

Appearing on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast this week, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon stated that Van Gundy is still believed to be high on the Rockets’ list.

“I still think Jeff Van Gundy is probably the favorite, but they’re definitely doing their due diligence,” MacMahon said (link via RealGM). “… Really, I think the most important thing for the coaching candidates is going to be aligning with Daryl Morey and his vision in terms of basketball philosophy as well as who is going to be on that staff because we all know Daryl Morey is very hands on in terms of putting together a coach’s staff.”

Another factor worth monitoring as the Rockets seek a new head coach is how much team owner Tilman Fertitta will be willing to pay to fill the role.

Since Fertitta’s arrival, Houston has made an apparent effort to avoid finishing seasons in luxury-tax territory. The Rockets also reportedly offered D’Antoni an extension heavy on non-guaranteed incentives last offseason. If the organization is unwilling to make a significant financial commitment to its next head coach, it would presumably reduce the odds of an experienced candidate like Lue or Van Gundy taking the job.

Rockets Rumors: Green, Tucker, Nwaba, Coaching Search

Former Rockets swingman Gerald Green, who missed the entire 2019/20 season due to a broken foot, is training privately in Houston and is hoping to eventually reunite with the Rockets, league sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Green, 34, began the ’19/20 campaign with the Rockets, but didn’t suit up for any games, having undergone foot surgery on October before he was eventually traded and waived in February. A July report indicated that Green has since recovered from that procedure and received medical clearance, but decided not to seek a new deal until the fall for family reasons, including the expected birth of his child in August.

Green has signed three consecutive minimum-salary contracts with Houston since 2017, so it seems safe to assume that the team would remain interested in bringing him back at that price as long as he’s fully healthy and there’s a roster spot available.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • P.J. Tucker is still hoping to reach an agreement with the Rockets on a new contract that would extend his current deal beyond 2020/21, according to Iko. Both sides are believed to be “on the same page” when it comes to wanting Tucker in Houston beyond next season, says Iko. Because Tucker is earning below the NBA’s estimated average salary in ’20/21, his starting salary on an extension wouldn’t be able to exceed about $11.5MM for ’21/22.
  • Within his same story for The Athletic, Iko cites a source who says David Nwaba “looks good” as he continues to rehab his Achilles injury in the hopes of getting healthy for the start of the 2020/21 season. Nwaba is being viewed internally as a “key rotational piece” for next season, Iko adds.
  • Following up on a Wednesday report, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle says that David Vanterpool‘s interview for the Rockets’ head coaching job will actually take place on Friday.
  • Feigen confirms that Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., and Stephen Silas have interviewed for the position so far, with meetings still to come for Vanterpool, Tyronn Lue, and John Lucas. The early interviewees have been “impressive” but there’s no clear frontrunner yet, according to Feigen, who adds that Jeff Van Gundy and other potential candidates could still end up meeting with Houston about the job.