As we get deeper into the offseason, there are a lot of questions regarding the state of the Houston Rockets. Will the team move on from Russell Westbrook after he requested a trade? Is it time to rebuild and trade James Harden? SI’s Chris Mannix spoke to new Rockets head coach Stephen Silas on The Crossover podcast about the challenges he faces ahead.
(Listen to the latest Crossover podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
This interview was conducted before the report of Russell Westbrook's trade request.
Mannix: As you enter this job, do you go into it with any prior relationships with James Harden and Russell Westbrook?
Silas: No, not at all. We say, what's up. We saw each other in the bubble and say hello, but that was it. We didn't have a friendship or a connection beyond that. Part of the interview process was Facetiming those guys and getting their point of view and letting them know my vision and answering questions that they had, which were very good questions and concerns that they had about the team going forward.
So it's going to be a building process with those guys and with great players they don't just trust right away. And they shouldn't, you know, it's going to be day after day, practice after practice, game after game to where we have a great bond. And they know where I'm coming from. They know what I'm talking about and it'll be good. But I'm definitely looking forward to working with those guys and I appreciate them giving the word to the powers that be that I could be the guy.
Mannix: And you take this job and as I've said multiple times, you deserve this job and now you get to the part of doing the job. Around the league this is widely viewed as a difficult job. You have a team here that is, you know, still strong at the top with James and Russ, but there is a perception around the league that maybe the Rockets have plateaued, maybe that they've seen their best days. What's your mindset on that? How do you see this team getting to that championship level, which I know is obviously the mandate of this team?
Silas: Yeah, you know, there's two parts of it. There's the Russ and James part of it, which is so attractive and they're two of the best players in the NBA, two former NBA MVPs and soon at some point after they retire, they'll be Hall of Famers and they're great and there's so much there. But then there's Eric Gordon and there's P.J. Tucker and there's Robert Covington. And, you know, the young guys like Danuel House and Ben McLemore, there's a lot there. So for me coming into this situation and this being my first time as a head coach, I couldn't ask for anything more. A lot of times, I would get a job that would be a rebuild or, you know, maybe they're trying to lose a few games to get picks or whatever like that. This opportunity for me is a win now opportunity. And that's what I want. I am a win-now coach. So it's great.