Mike D'Antoni to Experiment With Expanded Rotation Before Playoffs

Michael Shapiro

Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni has been notably stringent with his rotation over the past two decades, including his past three playoff runs with Houston. But as the Rockets approach the season's resumption on July 30, D'Antoni could effectively empty the bench in Orlando. 

"We’ll have a good rotation and look forward to getting a better look at guys that maybe came in the middle of the year that I wasn’t able to see," D'Antoni told the media on a Zoom call on Wednesday. "Now with training camp, then yeah, it’s going to be a competition."

"And there’ll be surprises. Some guys won’t be ready to play. Maybe they can’t handle the environment, whatever. We will adjust. Hopefully, by the time we get to the playoffs, we’ll have the right rotation, the right players, the right amount of minutes, and then go for it."

D'Antoni will have no shortage of options at his disposal as the Rockets shoot for the Western Conference crown. Houston has seven players who have logged at least 900 minutes on the team this season, and a slate of February additions could make an additional impact. Robert Covington will continue to be a starter after a sterling first 14 games with the Rockets, while Jeff Green's backup center role appears to be secure after a strong start in Houston. 

Legitimate playing time for Green will expand D'Antoni's rotation to nine players assuming no surprise benchings. But there are other potential candidates who will fight for playing time in Orlando. 

DeMarre Carroll could see the floor as he likely battles new addition (and familiar face) Luc Mbah a Moute for minutes on the wing. Bruno Caboclo may still be too raw to take the floor in the playoffs, but he's likely to play at some point in the final eight regular season games. With a spot in the playoffs already secure, D'Antoni should use the remainder of the regular season for some serious experimentation. 

Houston enters the season's resumption No. 6 in the Western Conference at 40–24. The Rockets currently sit tied with the Thunder and one game back of the Jazz as they seek the franchise's first Finals appearance since 1995. 

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