Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander will meet with TNT analyst Kevin McHale in Miami on Wednesday to discuss the team's head-coaching vacancy, sources confirmed to SI.com. McHale has the endorsement of Houston's front office and is the frontrunner among finalists that include Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank.
The meeting was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
McHale's suddenly strong interest in coaching has caught some people off guard. A longtime executive in Minnesota, McHale was forced by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to take over the coaching duties after the team fired Randy Wittman in 2008. McHale was reluctant to take the job, citing the rigors of NBA travel. Minnesota finished the 2008-09 season 20-43. McHale also coached the Timberwolves to a 19-12 record after taking over for Flip Saunders midway through the 2004-05 season.
"I'm shocked he's even interested in coaching," one former player said.
Still, McHale was well regarded by many of his players in Minnesota. He was considered an excellent communicator and, surprisingly, an underrated tactician. A seven-time NBA All-Star and three-time champion as a player, McHale has been credited with helping to develop Kevin Garnett and Al Jefferson while both were with the Timberwolves.
The Rockets, who have had three head coaches in the last 19 years after parting ways with Rick Adelman in April, are reportedly only planning to offer their next coach a short-term deal. League sources believe that could be because Houston is grooming Chris Finch, a decorated international coach who led the Rockets D-League affiliate, the Rio Grand Vipers, to the NBDL title in the 2009-10 season.
Houston executives believe Finch has a future as an NBA head coach and he could be added to the Rockets staff as an assistant coach next season.