The Rockets have made up their minds. Sort of.

After weeks of whittling down an untenable list of choices, Daryl Morey brings us his three possible choices for the next sideline stalker of the Houston Rockets. Via Kurt Helin of ProBasketballTalk:

After interviewing a candidate pool roughly the size of the population of India, the Houston Chronicle reports they (sic) Rockets have narrowed the search to three finalists:

Lawrence Frank, Dwane Casey and Kevin McHale.

All three of them are former NBA head coaches. Frank is the current lead assistant for the Boston Celtics, Casey is still working as an assistant in Dallas right now. McHale is working as an analysit for NBA TV.

While this may put a damper on all of those Rockets fans waiting for a Stan Van Gundy dismissal from Orlando so that he could follow in his brother’s footsteps in Houston, it can only help this organization inch closer to a measure of stability that has eluded a Rockets team left discombobulated by injuries and incessant trade talk. Frank’s best known as the guy who began his coaching career with a record 13 consecutive wins for his then New Jersey Nets. After following that with five promising if disappointing seasons (he took those Nets to the playoffs four times, three of those runs going into the conference semis), Frank has gone on to replace Tom Thibodeau as the Boston Celtics’ resident defensive guru, helping guide the league’s second-best defense this season. Frank is an unarguably safe bet that could bring a greater deal of defensive intensity and overall stricture to a team that desperately needs both (the last half of this year’s run could be described as nothing short of fantastic, but little attention or consequence was assigned to adherence to scheme for the Rockets’ defense, even if the ardor for that end of the floor was turned up).

My personal favorite, Dwane Casey, will likely be the hardest sell to a Rockets fanbase still not entirely sure why Rick Adelman won’t be the team’s coach next season. Casey’s best season as a head coach, a 20-20 run in Minnesota cut maddeningly short by an impatient owner, does not exactly scream “overdue second-chance”, something made obvious by the two jobs Casey lost to the charming but ineffective Vinny Del Negro (Casey also was in consideration last summer for the Hawks’ coaching vacancy now being ably filled by Larry Drew). Currently, Casey plays assistant on the NBA’s hottest team in Dallas, a gig in which his head coach Rick Carlisle cannot believe he’s lucky enough to have Casey. Well-regarded does not even begin to describe the man’s reputation.

Then there’s McHale, lying in wait with his high-profile announcer job, extensive general manager experience (which should act as much of a detriment as a benefit for him) and gigantic reputation as a Hall-of-Fame player. His resume as an actual head coach is the spottiest of the three options, as it only includes two interim terms with the Timberwolves; the first has been hilariously mocked by former Timberwolf Anthony Carter, though his second run did feature some inspired play from former non-contributors like Sebastian Telfair and Randy Foye. His name will ring the loudest. He will instantly make the Rockets’ next season a curiosity for outside viewers, if not must-see TV. His hiring would also reek of a star-centric sensibility that Daryl Morey has never had; though Morey has obviously been pining for a legitimate NBA superstar for the last few years (um, who isn’t?), numerous proposed deals for names like Vince Carter and Baron Davis have been spurned because they simply did not make basketball sense.

No matter how much of an “intriguing gamble” hiring McHale might be, there’s something to be said about giving a guy with the perfect reputation, the guy who seems to be a perfect fit, a chance. For a few years, the Boston Celtics got lucky enough to keep the league’s best-regarded assistant to themselves, posting historic defensive numbers along the way. Then the Chicago Bulls took a chance and finally hired him. The kind of rudimentary logic that led to that hiring would likely lead the Rockets to Casey. Would emulating this year’s Bulls be so bad?

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