The Houston Rockets are rumored to be interviewing David Blatt, but competition could be high for the former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach.
Reports on Monday indicate that Blatt is interviewing for the team’s coaching vacancy, part of a series of interviews as the team looks to replace the fired Kevin McHale.
Blatt was fired in January after leading the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in the previous year. He had the team at an Eastern Conference best of 30-11 at the time he was fired. His firing came amid reports of a strained relationship with star LeBron James and questions about his control of the team.
Blatt had interviewed for the New York Knicks coaching vacancy earlier this offseason, and he could have an advantage due to his experience with the triangle offense. Knicks president Phil Jackson has said he wants the team to run the triangle under the next head coach, and Blatt has experience with offenses of similar complexity.
Harvey Araton of the New York Times wrote that Blatt was confident coming out of his interview with the Knicks.
“He pitched himself to Jackson as a defensive-minded coach who, while playing collegiately at Princeton, was reared on the joy of a deliberate, five-man offense and therefore amenable to embracing Jackson’s beloved triangle. He reminded Jackson that he initially went to Cleveland in 2014 to coach a young, undisciplined Cavaliers team, a work in progress. That was before James suddenly returned as the homecoming King, when the Cavs were essentially the Knicks, minus the veteran shotmaking of Carmelo Anthony.”
But, CBS Sports notes that the Knicks have failed to move forward on David Blatt, and sources say that Kurt Rambis is their top pick.
While the Houston Rockets are moving forward on David Blatt, there are still other teams in the running for his services, CBS Sports notes. He was linked to the Sacramento Kings before they moved forward on Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger, and the Indiana Pacers are reportedly interested, as well.
The Houston Rockets reportedly plan to involve guard James Harden on the search, consulting with him on the final candidates. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander said Harden would have input on both the coaching search and the team’s free agent moves this offseason.
The team could have some changes planned, with big man Dwight Howard expected to opt out of his contract and test free agency. It could lead to a rebuild of sorts if he leaves, and a new coach would likely want input on the direction of the team moving forward.
And even if the Rockets were to keep Howard, he would not be the same player as in the past, Fansided noted.
“Howard is not that same player. A back injury during his final season in Orlando has severely limited the explosiveness that he once used to dominate opposing teams. He’s clearly lost a step, and there’s criticism that he hasn’t changed his game to adjust to that lack of athleticism. He’s obsessed with posting up when that kind of game doesn’t fit his skill set, the team’s need, or the current climate of the NBA. As the league progresses, Howard seems to want to go backwards just so he can prove that he still has the ability to do it.”
The Houston Rockets are rumored to be widening their search for a new coach. They have already interviewed interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff along with Chris Finch, Sam Cassell and Mike D’Antoni, ESPN reports. Bickerstaff has already withdrawn his name from consideration, but the field is still widening.
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