Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue Emerge As Rockets Coaching Candidates

Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue Emerge As Rockets Coaching Candidates

Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue Emerge As Rockets Coaching Candidates

Two interesting head coaching candidates have emerged for the Houston Rockets.

Following last week’s disappointing flameout versus the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference semis, Mike D’Antoni announced that he was leaving Houston.

“Our time here was among the most memorable experiences of our lives,” he and his wife said in a statement.

“From the dear friends we’ve made, the incredible partnerships with civic minded-leaders and city officials, to the wonderful nonprofits and the clients they serve, Laurel and I will be forever indebted to this community for embracing our family.”

Currently, D’Antoni is regarded as the favorite to land the Indiana Pacers’ vacant head coaching position. There has also been some chatter regarding him possibly linking up with the Philadelphia 76ers and succeeding Brett Brown.

Either way—D’Antoni will land on his feet. Although he didn’t ultimately win a title with the Rockets, his track record speaks for itself. He went 217-102 in four seasons with the organization and came within one Chris Paul injury of making it to an NBA Finals.

D’Antoni also won 28 total postseason games with Houston – the fourth-most during his time there.

Far more interesting than what D’Antoni will do is how the Rockets will replace him.

This is a team built with a very specific set of players, and it will require a special coach who can effectively utilize them in a way that maximizes their skills and minimizes their weaknesses.

Who fits the bill? According to The Athletic, Ty Lue and Jeff Van Gundy are getting a close look.

Both names are fascinating, albeit for different reasons.

Lue is obviously a championship-level coach who came remarkably close to landing with this year’s Los Angeles Lakers squad, before his contractual requests torpedoed the whole thing.

Van Gundy, meanwhile, seems to get his name brought up any time a major NBA vacancy opens up, despite not having coached in the league in more than a decade. Back when he was the head coach of the Rockets, Van Gundy led the team to a 182-146 mark and three first-round postseason exits in a four-year span.

Since parting ways with the organization, he has broadcasted games on ESPN alongside Mike Breen and Mark Jackson.

In 2017, Van Gundy was named head coach of the senior United States men’s national basketball team for that year’s FIBA AmeriCup tournament (where he subsequently won gold), as well as the qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Does Van Gundy’s experience over the past 13 years qualify him to lead one of arguably the four-best teams in the Western Conference? That’s the big question.

One way or another, the Rockets will look very different come next season. Whether that will result in them being a better or worse team remains to be seen, though.

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Jennifer Withers Hoey

Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.

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