05/26 22:33 CDT AP Source: Rockets, D'Antoni agree on 4-year deal
AP Source: Rockets, D'Antoni agree on 4-year deal
By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Basketball Writer
Mike D'Antoni is taking his "Seven Seconds or Less" offense to Houston, where
James Harden is waiting to give his new coach the kind of weapon that could be
a perfect fit for his system.
D'Antoni reached agreement with the Rockets on a four-year deal on Thursday, a
person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person
spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the hiring,
which was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.
In some ways, both D'Antoni and the Rockets are looking for redemption.
The 65-year-old D'Antoni has long been thought of as one of the most innovative
offensive minds in basketball. He led the Phoenix Suns to two Western
Conference finals appearances in five seasons, with Steve Nash and Amare
Stoudemire spearheading a break-neck scoring machine that put the entire league
on its heels.
He wasn't as successful in ensuing stints with the New York Knicks and Los
Angeles Lakers, going a combined 188-255 in six seasons and 0-8 in two trips to
He returned to the bench as an associate head coach in Philadelphia this season
in hopes of getting another chance to run the show.
D'Antoni inherits a team in turmoil with the Rockets. They were one of the
NBA's biggest disappointments this season, with discord in the locker room
leaking on to the court and making the talented roster an incredibly
frustrating team to watch.
With his ability to shoot from the outside, score in transition and get to the
free throw line, Harden puts as much pressure on an opposing defense as any
player in the league. But his ball-dominant approach and an inability to fully
mesh with center Dwight Howard added a level of tension to the attack that was
After making the Western Conference finals in 2015, the Rockets barely made the
playoffs this year and were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the
Coach Kevin McHale was fired early in the season as GM Daryl Morey desperately
tried to find the right buttons to push to get the team going. Interim coach
J.B. Bickerstaff went 37-34 in McHale's place.
The Rockets conducted an exhaustive coaching search. Charlotte assistant
Stephen Silas, Orlando assistant Adrian Griffin, San Antonio assistant James
Borrego and TNT analyst Kenny Smith were among the candidates interviewed by
Morey and owner Leslie Alexander.
D'Antoni is 455-426 in 12 seasons as a head coach, including a 50-game stint
with the Denver Nuggets in 1998-99. He has led his team to the playoffs six
His offensive expertise should align well with Harden, the bearded face of the
franchise known for his scoring and volume shooting. Like D'Antoni, Harden is
occasionally chided for a perceived aversion to defense, but he remains so much
more than a shot hunter. He averaged 7.5 assists this season to go with his
29.0 points and has served as the Rockets' primary ball-handler and playmaker
ever since he was acquired in a trade with Oklahoma City in 2012.
There is also a familiarity between the two stemming from their time together
with the U.S. Olympic team in 2012.
Howard is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. It will
be up to D'Antoni and Morey to find the right mix of players to surround Harden
with, and D'Antoni is expected to bring in a coaching staff with experience on
the defensive end to help balance his acumen on the offensive side.
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