April 10: The Rockets have officially declined their option and parted ways with Silas, the team announced.
“On behalf of the Fertitta family and the entire Rockets organization, I would like to thank Stephen for his contributions to the team and the Houston community over the past three seasons,” said general manager Rafael Stone. “I have great respect for Stephen both as a person and as a basketball mind. His character, leadership, and positivity have been invaluable during this stage of our growth.”
April 9: Stephen Silas won’t return in 2023/24 as the Rockets‘ head coach, according to reports from Kelly Iko, Shams Charania, and Sam Amick of The Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
Because he doesn’t have a guaranteed contract for next season, Silas isn’t technically being fired. However, Houston will turn down its team option on the final year of Silas’ deal and will hire a new head coach.
Rockets management is expected to meet with Silas on Monday to formally part ways, according to The Athletic and ESPN (Twitter link). Word of his exit broke moments after the club won its regular season finale on Sunday.
“I feel proud,” Silas said after Sunday’s game (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle). “I wanted to be a head coach my whole life like my dad (Paul Silas). I’m proud of these guys. There’s been a lot of talk about my job for a long time. They kept working and playing hard, playing hard for their coach. I’m proud of that.”
Silas was hired by the Rockets to replace Mike D’Antoni prior to the 2020/21 season, back when James Harden and Russell Westbrook were still on the roster. Both of those stars requested trades early in Silas’ tenure and the team pivoted to a rebuild, significantly altering the nature of the job. Silas ultimately led the Rockets to a 59-177 (.250) record during his three years with the club, which was the NBA’s worst record during that time.
According to The Athletic’s story, the Rockets seriously considered firing Silas after slow starts both last season and this season, but he was able to save his job in both instances due to timely wins during those evaluation periods. Following the passing on Stephen’s father Paul this past December, the Rockets intended to let Silas finish the season.
Iko, Charania, and Amick say that Houston believes a head coaching change is necessary to take a next step toward contention, adding that the team will prioritize a more established coach when seeking Silas’ replacement.
Sources tell The Athletic that Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin, and former NBA head coaches Frank Vogel, James Borrego, and Ime Udoka are expected to be among Houston’s candidates. Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) suggests that Trail Blazers assistant Scott Brooks, another former head coach, is also drawing interest from the Rockets.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse would be a target too if he doesn’t remain in Toronto, according to The Athletic’s reporters, who say the Rockets will have about eight candidates on their wish list.
As for Silas, he’ll likely be a popular target for teams seeking experienced assistant coaches this offseason, says Wojnarowski. Because he isn’t owed guaranteed money from the Rockets in 2023/24, Silas seems less likely to take a year off before finding a new job.