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Report: Jeff Van Gundy Emerges as Rockets Head Coach Candidate

Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni is on the final year of his contract in 2019-20, and a familiar face could return to Houston if D'Antoni doesn't sign a new deal after this season. 

Former Rockets head coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy is a "very possible replacement," for D'Antoni, according to The Athletic's Sam Amick. Van Gundy coached the Rockets from 2003-07, sporting a 182–146 record with three playoff appearances in four years. 

"I do not get the sense that Mike D’Antoni is going to be back," Amick told The Athletic's Kelly Iko. "Jeff Van Gundy is the one that I had heard consistently as a very possible replacement for Mike."

Van Gundy isn't the only former head coach rumored to be a candidate for the Rockets' job. Houston reportedly has "strong interest," in former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau if D'Antoni doesn't return, per the New York Post's Marc Berman. Amick discussed Thibodeau's potential candidacy on Tuesday. 

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"It’s interesting to see [Thibodeau's’] name in there now," Amick told Iko. "Because you have a guy who was Jeff’s top assistant when Jeff was the Rockets coach. …Van Gundy and Thibs being from the same tree, whatever happens next, I think you’re starting to get a sense of what might be prioritized. Obviously defense first, discipline."

D'Antoni and the Rockets attempted to negotiate a contract extension in the offseason, but talks were tabled in May 2019. If Houston moves on after the conclusion of 2019-20, it appears as though the next Rockets coach will bring about a significant stylistic change compared to D'Antoni.