Report: Rockets Eyeing 'Veteran Coach' After Mike D'Antoni Departure

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Mike D’Antoni left the Rockets after four seasons with the franchise on Sept. 13, exiting Houston after one of the most successful stretches in the organization’s history. The Rockets posted a 217–107 record in D’Antoni’s tenure, and they were one win away from the Finals in 2018. D’Antoni’s replacement will join a franchise with championship expectations in 2020-21.

The Rockets are casting a wide net in their coaching search, with former Houston guard Sam Cassell reportedly under consideration. But it appears as though the Rockets may prefer a candidate with prior head coaching experience.  

“Houston, I think you’re going to see more of a veteran coach there for that group,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Wednesday. “I think they’ll interview a lot of people. Ty Lue and Sam Cassell with the Clippers are a couple, but a bunch more.”

“They like interviewing a lot of people with the Rockets, traditionally, when they have an opening — and trying a lot of combinations of head coach and top assistant. They try to find people that complement each other.“

Lue and Cassell are two of the most heavily-reported potential candidates for the Rockets’ job, though they are far from the only potential hires for Daryl Morey and Co. Houston could look to bring back former head coach Jeff Van Gundy, and a slate of current assistants are also under consideration. 

The 2020 offseason is filled with coaching candidates, and there’s no shortage of openings with Houston, Philadelphia and New Orleans each sporting attractive rosters. There’s little knowing who exactly the Rockets will hire at this point, but one thing is for certain: Houston’s next year coach will enter a Finals-or-bust situation as James Harden and Russell Westbrook enter the second year of their partnership.