Stephen Silas

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.

Western Notes: Silas, Clippers, Caruso, Jazz

New Rockets coach Stephen Silas applauded the team’s diverse approach in hiring a new head coach and general manager this offseason, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes.

Silas is one of seven black head coaches in the NBA, joining Doc Rivers, Tyronn Lue, Lloyd Pierce, J.B. Bickerstaff, Monty Williams and Dwane Casey. Rafael Stone is one of 11 black general managers or heads of basketball operations, including the first black GM in Rockets franchise history (53 years).

“It’s gratifying to be in this situation with Rafael and the organization,” Silas said. “The organization, it starts with [owner] Tilman [Fertitta]. For Tilman to, I wouldn’t say think outside the box, but to have that commitment to the best man for the job is great. That’s how it needs to be around the league as a whole.

“We don’t want to have a leg up. We just want to be on an even playing field. In this organization, that’s what it is.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic examines a number of topics related to the Clippers in his latest mailbag, including the team’s upcoming free agency and various trade options. Los Angeles disappointed its fanbase by losing a seven-game series to the Nuggets in the second round of the playoffs this year, failing to reach the conference finals despite having stars such as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
  • Lakers swingman Alex Caruso considered playing in Europe after going undrafted in 2016, he said on the JJ Redick Podcast (as relayed by Sportando). Caruso would wind up joining the Sixers for summer league, later playing for the Oklahoma City Blue — G League affiliate of the Thunder. He played an integral role in helping the Lakers win their first championship since 2010 last month.
  • Sarah Todd of The Deseret News explores what the Jazz are looking for this offseason. Utah played without Bojan Bogdanovic during the Orlando restart, losing 4-3 to the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs. “Going from good to great is hard,” general manager Justin Zanik admitted at the time, as relayed by Todd.

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.

Southwest Notes: Silas, Stan Van Gundy, Cuban

Shortly before the Rockets hired Stephen Silas as their head coach, the longtime assistant called his father, former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, to say he expected to be passed over again, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. More than a month had passed since the younger Silas was first mentioned as a candidate to replace Mike D’Antoni, and he had become discouraged by the long wait.

“He said he wasn’t going to get this job,” Paul said. “I told him it was going to happen. I knew it was going to happen for him. They wanted to get him. He said, “I don’t think it’s going to happen, Dad.’ I said, ‘It is.’ And it did. I’m just happy as heck.”

Stephen has been around the NBA all his life, starting as a child when his All-Star father brought him into locker rooms. He landed his first job in the league in 1999 as a scout with the Hornets when Paul was their head coach. He later joined his father’s staff at age 27, becoming the league’s youngest assistant coach, and has worked in the NBA for the past 20 years.

“I thought it would happen because I had him as (an assistant) coach and he was doing a great job,” Paul said. “I just knew it was going to happen. He did a great job, I tell you. He really did. And he’ll do a great job now.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Stan Van Gundy is thrilled about the roster he’s inheriting as the new head coach of the Pelicans, according to Jim Eichenhofer of NBA.com. Although New Orleans is coming off a disappointing season, there’s plenty of talent on hand, led by Most Improved Player Brandon Ingram and No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson. “He’s one of those really tall, long guys who plays like a point guard, who can get to anywhere on the floor and score the ball,” Van Gundy said of Ingram. “I don’t even know the comparison for Zion Williamson. He’s unique in the way he plays, but this is a guy coming off an injury for most of the year that was able to be extremely productive and efficient. There’s just not people like that. There’s a lot to build around there.”
  • Van Gundy will have to adjust to the NBA’s new style to be successful in New Orleans, contends William Guillory of The Athletic. The Pelicans ranked in the top five in pace of play in the past three seasons, and Van Gundy has never had a team in the top 10 in that category during his 11 seasons as a head coach.
  • In an appearance on Etan Thomas’ “The Rematch,” Mark Cuban admits his worst move in 20 years of owning the Mavericks was letting Steve Nash leave in free agency, tweets Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews. “Not even close, it’s my biggest mistake ever,” Cuban said. “Nash hated me for a long time because of it. We’re good now.”

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.

Rockets Notes: Harden, Silas, Alston

With Daryl Morey poised to join the Sixers as their new president of basketball operations, there has been plenty of speculation within the last 24 hours about the possibility of Morey getting back in touch with the Rockets to inquire about the possibility about acquiring his longtime superstar James Harden.

While Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) says he wouldn’t be surprised if Morey contacts the Rockets this offseason with a proposal involving Harden, he stresses that Houston’s answer will be a “firm no.” MacMahon reiterated this point during an appearance on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast, as RealGM relays.

“I’ve already been told – with a few expletives included – by somebody with the Rockets: ‘No, Daryl, James Harden for Ben Simmons is not happening. Don’t ask,'” MacMahon said.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • When the Rockets launched their head coaching search, they weren’t necessarily looking for a specific type of coach — they were simply looking for “talent,” according to Kelly Iko and Tim Cato of The Athletic. That’s why the team’s list of rumored targets was made up of a wide variety of candidates, including multiple former head coaches and several – like Stephen Silas – who would be first-timers. Ultimately, the club was won over by Silas’ meticulousness, his thoughtful and detailed answers, and the way he carried himself, per Iko and Cato.
  • Former NBA guard Rafer Alston is seriously interested in coaching at the NBA level and is specifically hoping to join the Rockets’ staff, he tells Iko (Twitter link).
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is losing one of his top assistants in Silas, but he lauded the Rockets for making a “great hire,” as MacMahon tweets. Stephen did a great job for us here in Dallas helping us get back to the playoffs,” Carlisle said. “(I’m) thrilled for him and his family.”
  • In case you missed it within our story on Silas’ hiring from Wednesday, the Rockets have reportedly talked to Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan about the possibility of joining their coaching staff as assistants.

Western Notes: Lakers, Silas, Weaver, Nuggets

The Lakers will have to navigate a difficult and tricky offseason in order to construct a long-term dynasty, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes.

Los Angeles is coming off its first championship in a decade and could have nine players entering free agency this year. While LeBron James and Anthony Davis naturally played the biggest roles in the team’s title run, having a deep bench and productive supporting cast remains essential for the club’s chances of competing in the future.

“This is a historic franchise and to be a part of this is something that I’ll be able to talk about and my grandkids and kids will be able to talk about: Their paw-paw played for the Los Angeles Lakers,” James said after winning his fourth ring. “It’s like playing for the Yankees and winning or playing for the Cowboys and winning a Super Bowl, or the Patriots. It’s like playing for the Red Sox. So to be able to win with a historical franchise is something that, no matter if your mind wavers away, you can always remember what you’re doing it for.”

Assuming Davis re-signs with the franchise, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka will be tasked with filling the holes around his two superstars in order to keep the team at the forefront of contention next season.

There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:

  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman lists five things to know about Stephen Silas, a possible candidate for the Thunder‘s vacant head coaching job. Silas has served in various scouting and assistant coaching roles since 2000, spending the past two seasons as an assistant with the Mavericks under Rick Carlisle.
  • Mussato examines five things to know about Will Weaver in a separate article for The Oklahoman. Like Silas, Weaver is also a candidate for the Thunder’s head coaching vacancy. The 36-year-old coached the Sydney Kings of the National Basketball League last season and also holds experience as an assistant with the Sixers (2013-16) and Nets (2016-18).
  • Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic examines the rebranding of the Nuggets’ arena, which was formally re-named from Pepsi Center to Ball Arena. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment announced a naming rights partnership with the Ball Corporation last week, explaining the new arena name change.

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 Notes: Morey, Stone, Silas, Johnson

Longtime Rockets general manager Daryl Morey announced on Thursday he’ll be stepping down from his role with the franchise on November 1, effectively ending a 14-year run with the franchise.

Morey was the engine behind several notable transactions in recent years, including signing Chris Paul to a four-year, $160MM deal, trading him for nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook and moving center Clint Capela to usher the team into an unprecedented version of small-ball.

“After returning from Orlando and reflecting on what has been an amazing 14 years with the Houston Rockets, and after discussing my thoughts with family and close friends, I’ve decided I’ll be stepping away from the Rockets organization effective November 1st,” Morey said in a statement. “[Owner] Tilman [Fertitta] and I have had many conversations since I returned, and his unwavering support and counsel during our time together has been critical to our success.

“It has been the most gratifying experience of my professional life to lead the Rockets basketball organization, and I look forward to working with Tilman and the management team on the transition. I am very confident that the future – for the Rockets, and for our incredible fans – is in great hands, and that the Rockets will continue to perform at the highest level.”

Morey met with Fertitta on Thursday to inform him of his decision. Houston acted quickly on filling his soon-to-be-vacated position, promoting EVP of Basketball Operations Rafael Stone to GM and giving Eli Witus an increased role as assistant GM.

“On behalf of the entire Rockets organization, I would like to thank Daryl Morey for his hard work and dedication over the past 14 seasons,” Fertitta said. “Daryl is a brilliant innovator who helped the Rockets become a perennial contender. I have truly enjoyed working with Daryl and couldn’t have asked for a better general manager to have at the start of my ownership.  I wish him and his family all the best.”

There’s more out of Houston today:

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle examines the rise of new GM Rafael Stone, who originally joined the franchise back in 2005. Feigen notes in a separate story that Stone will lead the team’s search for a new head coach in the coming days and weeks.
  • Houston will interview Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas for a second time on Friday, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst (Twitter link). The Rockets have reportedly focused on the trio of Silas, Jeff Van Gundy and John Lucas for the team’s vacant head coaching position.
  • Longtime Rockets scout Brent ‘B.J.’ Johnson tragically passed away on Thursday due to a bicycle accident, Feigen relays in a story for the Houston Chronicle. “He was riding his bike and hit a culvert,” Johnson’s wife Claudette said. “There was construction. They are thinking he fell forward and broke his neck because there was no blood.” Johnson is described by those who knew him as hard-working, positive and influential. He was hired by the organization back in 1994. “BJ was beloved and respected not only throughout the Rockets organization, but across the league and the basketball world,” the Rockets said as part of a larger statement on social media (Twitter links).