NBA Rumors: Houston Rockets Rejecting Kenny Smith, Hiring Someone Else

NBA rumors are swirling around Kenny Smith. After being considered a top candidate to take over as the new head coach of the Houston Rockets, some minds have been changed. According to ESPN, Smith is no longer a candidate for the job.

Kenny Smith has a really good relationship with Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander. The latter thought really hard about hiring his former point guard to become the permanent replacement for Kevin McHale. However, he and general manager Daryl Morey decided that it would be best for the team to hire a head coach with experience instead.

Upon finding out from the Houston Rockets that he would not be hired for the job, Kenny Smith sounded like he was conceding the fact that his coaching career in the NBA will have to wait at least another year. The former North Carolina Tar Heels star made it sound like he was going to remain at his broadcasting job with TNT. Smith doesn’t mind because he really enjoys working with Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal.

NBA analyst Charles Barkley
With Kenny Smith ruled out, the Houston Rockets have a couple of candidates remaining on the list. They’ve interviewed a handful of coaches already.

David Blatt would be an interesting option. He’s not a bad coach. The Cleveland Cavaliers just felt that it was time to promote assistant coach Tyronn Lue to head coach. It’s something that LeBron James and the other players wanted. Blatt’s ability to handle NBA superstars will be tested if he is coaching James Harden and possibly Dwight Howard.

Sam Cassell is another former Houston Rockets point guard. In fact, he backed up Kenny Smith when the franchise won two NBA Championships. Cassell has interviewed with the Rockets already and remains a candidate. Unlike Smith, though, Cassell has experience as a coach in the National Basketball Association. He’s spent several years as an assistant coach.

Los Angeles Clippers coach Sam Cassell
It didn’t take long for Mike D’Antoni to become a head coaching candidate in the NBA again. He spent less than a full season as the lead assistant to Philadelphia 76ers head coach Brett Brown. D’Antoni has interviewed with several teams, including the Houston Rockets. Some pretty amazing things might happen when you put an offensive force like James Harden with an offensive genius like D’Antoni.

Though he never played for the team, Jeff Hornacek is another former NBA guard that the Houston Rockets are interested in. The interview took place earlier in the month. Hornacek has moved on to interview with Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks. However, he remains a candidate with the Rockets.

NBA coach Jeff Hornacek
It’s unclear if the Houston Rockets are going to be interviewing any more head coaching candidates. It appears as if they have already made a decision among the guys that they have interviewed. Otherwise, they would not have informed Kenny Smith of his elimination from the list.

The Houston Rockets remain one of the most alluring franchises for NBA coaches. James Harden can put up a ton of points. Players seem to love playing in a big market in south Texas. Daryl Morey is one of the better general managers in the league. Leslie Alexander is a very supportive and involved team owner. It’s a wonderful combination for potential head coaches, especially those that have never had experience before.

Kenny Smith is going to be a head coach someday in the NBA. It just won’t be with the Houston Rockets, and it won’t be now.

[Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images]