The Rockets have cast a wide net in their coaching search as they look for a replacement for Mike D'Antoni, but it appears as though a pair of candidates are leading the pack as October approaches.
Former Houston guard Sam Cassell has been reported as a top candidate for the Rockets' vacancy. Not only does Cassell have Houston ties, he also enters the 2020 offseason after six years as an assistant with the Clippers. Cassell has been a fixture in the league for nearly three decades. His first head coaching gig should come sooner than later.
Another former member of the Rockets' organization is also reportedly under consideration to replace D'Antoni. Current ESPN analyst and ex-Houston head coach Jeff Van Gundy is "in the mix," for the Rockets' vacancy, potentially bringing a far different style than his predecessor, per ESPN's Brian Windhorst.
"Keep an eye on former Rocket, a guy who won a championship here, Sam Cassell," Windhorst said on Friday. "He may be getting his first coaching look off the LA Clippers staff."
"If not him, one of the favorites is our colleague at ESPN, former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. He’s in the mix for this job. It would be very different than Mike D’Antoni. This personnel is built to play fast. We’d see how he would handle that."
It's been over a decade since Van Gundy last coached in the NBA. He amassed a 182–146 record in four seasons with the Rockets from 2004-07, reaching the playoffs in three of four years. Van Gundy previously spent seven seasons with the Knicks, tallying 37 playoff victories.
Van Gundy has been an analyst for ESPN since 2007. He led the United States to a gold-medal finish at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup.