Rockets plan to stick with interim coach for entire 2015-16 season

By David Kenyon

The Houston Rockets made the biggest early-season move when they fired head coach Kevin McHale, but the team plans to give J.B. Bickerstaff the reins for the rest of 2015-16 season.

In an interview with ESPN’s Calvin Watkins, Rockets owner Leslie Alexander confirmed Bickerstaff will be evaluated at the end of the year.

ESPN: Can J.B. win this job?

Alexander: Of course he can. If the team responds to him and we win, of course he can.

ESPN: He’s here until the end of the season, and then you’re going to re-evaluate him. That correct?

Alexander: 100 percent.

Houston managed an overtime win in Bickerstaff’s debut, which seemed to spark a feeling of “the Rockets are saved!” for some strange reason. The team still looked bad.

McHale wasn’t the problem, and Alexander even said as much. Per Watkins, the owner admitted that the players weren’t playing hard, so change was made essentially for the sake of change.

To the franchise’s credit, the front office didn’t wait for the on-court product to continue becoming uglier. McHale was the easiest casualty, because it’s not like a roster overhaul was a legitimate choice.

According to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets met with 2014-15 MVP runner-up James Harden and admonished him about a lack of defensive effort. That should never be an issue with someone considered one of the NBA’s best players.

Houston will probably stay true to its word and give Bickerstaff a season-long shot, but unless he manages to change the collective mentality of the team, the Rockets won’t be much of a contender.