Even as the Houston Rockets take part in a first-round playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, the team is apparently already looking to move on from interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering Houston barely inched into the playoffs with a .500 record after making an appearance in the Western Conference Finals last season.
It is, however, surprising that specifics are coming out as Bickerstaff looks to lead his team back into the series against the defending champs after falling down 2-0.
From Adrian Wojnarowski and Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports:
“Jeff Van Gundy is at the top of the Houston Rockets’ list of potential candidates along with Thibodeau, league sources said. Jeff Van Gundy resigned as Rockets coach in 2007 after four seasons and still lives in Houston.The Rockets won’t begin a coaching search until the team’s postseason ends.”
It would be rather backhanded if the Rockets were engaging in a coaching search with the team still in the playoffs.
The issue for Houston’s brass has to be the widespread regression that we have seen from a talented roster this season.
Making the playoffs is one thing. Getting embarrassed by a vastly superior team is a completely different thing. Through two games against Golden State, the Rockets simply have competed at a playoff level.
A lack of effort, questionable execution and head coaching blunders have all led to the Rockets becoming somewhat of a laughingstock during the second season. Losing the first two games by a combined 35 points is bad enough.
Doing so with MVP Stephen Curry sidelined in the second game makes matters even more difficult for the Rockets to explain.
Bickerstaff took over the interim label after Houston fired Kevin McHale following a 4-7 start to the season. He proceeded to lead the Rockets to a pedestrian 37-34 record.
As it relates to Van Gundy, he seems to be in high demand around the Association. Already linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves opening, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was coaching in the NBA next season after a decade hiatus.
Van Gundy coached the Rockets for four seasons, from 2003-07. He led the team to the playoffs in three of his four seasons, winning 50-plus games twice.