Rockets clean house

The overhaul of the Rockets coaching staff took several additional deep cuts on Friday, with the Rockets letting four more staff members know they would not be back next season.

Rockets assistant coach Roy Rogers will not receive a new contract for next season, his agent Warren LeGarie said on Friday, making Rogers the second top assistant on Mike D’Antoni’s staff for the past three seasons that will not be offered a new contract.

This has been surprising news over the last day or so from an organization typically regarded as rational by outsiders. Rumors have swirled, but nothing firm has been corroborated regarding whether the shakeup has come at the behest of general manager Daryl Morey or team owner Tilman Fertitta.

The moves are odd because despite failing to adjust to Golden State’s changed personnel in the semifinals–a task far easier stated than done–Houston largely righted the ship on the defensive end in the second half of the season after solidifying a rotation that didn’t include Carmelo Anthony. They were second in defensive rating after the All-Star break.

Mike D’Antoni appears to be safe for now, having expressed interest in remaining with the team long-term, with Morey uhh…sort of giving a vote of confidence. To be sure, I blamed D’Antoni for the Game 6 loss, particularly for his unwillingness to bench center Clint Capela despite the raw data indicating he was absolutely killing his team. But I don’t think he should lose his job over the failure. Not after getting this close.

Smear it as defeatism as some of you will, or cite to it as further evidence that we Houstonians are just bred without a thirst for winning, as Scottie Pippen ironically suggested earlier in the month. I just think there’s something to organizational stability, particularly when all tiers of an organization (GM, coach, star) are on the same page. Except this shakeup might indicate otherwise.

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Postmortem Dissent: No Time To Panic

The Rockets lost to the Warriors, again, for the fourth time in five years. This year’s ignominy, after missing 27 threes in a row in last year’s Game 7, was failing to take a game from Golden State after their best player, Kevin Durant, was injured.

This season, far more than the previous two Durant-on-the-Warriors seasons, Golden State has looked vulnerable. The 2018-2019 Warriors won fewer games; their defense slipped; they sacrificed depth for an injured and ineffective DeMarcus Cousins; and their heart and soul, Draymond Green, had his worst season in years while reportedly feuding with Kevin Durant.

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Huq’s Pen: Houston Rockets 2018-2019 postmortem, Part 2

  • One thing that’s always been difficult for me is the fact that the more one tinkers with their roster, the more removed you become from the emotional highs and lows of success and failure, particularly when and if the pinnacle is ever reached. Had the Rockets toppled Golden State this year, they would have accomplished that feat without Trevor Ariza, a major part of last season’s team. If they go on to move either Clint Capela or Eric Gordon this offseason, and then get past the Warriors, it would leave just James Harden, Chris Paul, and P.J. Tucker as holdovers from the 2018 loss. It would be sweet, but just wouldn’t feel the same. This is without even mentioning how much institutional knowledge and experience is lost with each transaction. The new guys next year won’t be able to dig deep and lean on the past failures as an outcome to overcome. But I guess that’s just how it goes in the modern NBA. To stagnate is to die. And it’s what makes this Warriors run so unique. Because of a perfect storm of events (such as Steph Curry’s injury history leading to a below-market deal), they’ve managed to maintain the same core group through this entire run.
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