Kevin McHale has reached an agreement to become the coach of the Houston Rockets, league sources confirmed to SI.com.
The Hall of Fame forward who has spent his recent years working as a TNT analyst will succeed Rick Adelman, who was not re-signed after compiling the best winning percentage in franchise history during his four years with the Rockets. McHale beat out Dwane Casey (Dallas assistant and former Minnesota head coach) and Lawrence Frank (Boston assistant and former New Jersey head coach) for the position, with all three candidates meeting with front-office officials and owner Leslie Alexander before the decision was made.
Yahoo! Sports first reported the news of McHale's agreement with Houston.
"We just found a big piece to our puzzle," Houston guard Kevin Martin wrote via text message. "Now I can go back to my summer workouts and rest peacefully at night knowing we have a great coach that will elevate everyone's game and help us build a championship-caliber team."
Martin, who is owed a combined $25 million in the next seasons, appears to have been given a voice in the Rockets' coaching search that the Lakers' Kobe Bryant was not. Bryant was not consulted before his bosses hired coach Mike Brown this week, but Martin indicated that he was kept in the Rockets' loop.
"All I will say is that me and Daryl have a great speaking relationship;)" he wrote when asked if he had been given a chance to give an opinion on the finalists.
McHale hasn't been on a bench since the 2008-09 season with the Timberwolves, when he came down from his position as general manager and took over for Randy Wittman after he was fired following a 4-15 start. McHale -- who was given a three-year deal with a team option for a fourth -- went 20-43 and showed little ambition to continue in a head coaching capacity.
The Rockets job is perhaps the most unique in all of the league, as the front-office team, led by general manager Daryl Morey, analyzes its coaches and how it uses particular lineups and players to a degree that requires chemistry between the two sides. That reality was at the root of Adelman's departure, as there was clearly not enough trust between management and the coaching staff to operate in such a way.
Adelman also resisted urgings to make additions to his coaching staff, with one in particular expected to be that of D-League coach Chris Finch of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He is seen by the Rockets as a rising star in the coaching ranks, and numerous reports indicated he will be added to McHale's staff with the plan for him to possibly take over as head coach at the end of McHale's term.
McHale's Boston background surely didn't hurt his chances, either. Morey was the Celtics' senior vice president of operations and information before coming to the Rockets, and is known to have a great affinity for the organization.