The Houston Rockets have a new head coach. According to NBA.com, the team officially announced that Mike D’Antoni is going to be taking over the team. Since the head coach has been secured, the franchise now has the task of building a good coaching staff around him, one that can complement his style and guide James Harden and the supporting cast to the NBA Finals.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Houston Rockets are paying Mike D’Antoni $16 million over a span of four years. That’s a little less than what the top level head coaches in the NBA are being paid. However, it is still substantial enough to where the Rockets are showing a commitment to D’Antoni. They feel that he can be the guy to turn things around for them.
Very few coaches are all around guys. Many have their specialties because that’s what they choose to focus on. That’s how you get the attention of executives in the NBA in the first place. It’s also how you end up being hired. For Mike D’Antoni, offense is his focus. Very few guys in the history of basketball have pushed for as high of a pace of offense than the former Phoenix Suns head coach.
Since Mike D’Antoni is so focused on the offensive side of the ball, the smart move for the Houston Rockets was to find someone that could focus on the defensive side of the ball. They decided to go with Jeff Bzdelik for that role. He’s very well known in the NBA for being someone that is focused on shutting down opponents.
One of the things that will make the task harder for Jeff Bzdelik is the tempo that the Houston Rockets are planning to play on offense. Mike D’Antoni wants his guys to run. D’Antoni is not the type of coach that wants his players pounding the basketball until the shot clock expires. He wants the Rockets to shoot the ball as soon as they can. With players spending so much energy on offense, they might not be as dedicated on defense as Bzdelik would like them to be.
Morey introduces Roy Rogers and Jeff Bzdelik as assistant coaches. Bzdelik will run the D. Of course.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) June 1, 2016
Another thing that might make the job harder for Jeff Bzdelik is the fact that Dwight Howard could be on his way out of the Houston Rockets franchise. The six-foot, 11-inch, 260-pound center is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent in the summer. Howard didn’t exactly get along with Mike D’Antoni when the two of them were with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bzdelik will more than likely have to build the Rockets defense without Howard as the anchor in the middle.
When Jeff Bzdelik interviewed with the Houston Rockets, some thought that he was doing so for the then-vacant head coaching position. However, NBC Sports reported that the Rockets told Bzdelik all along that they wanted him as the associate head coach under Mike D’Antoni.
In addition to Jeff Bzdelik, the Houston Rockets also announced that Roy Rogers was going to be joining the coaching staff under Mike D’Antoni. As a former power forward in the NBA, Rogers will be able to provide insight to the players that are on the roster. Some players are more receptive to coaches that have been in their shoes before.
Mike D’Antoni is probably not done with his coaching staff. At least one other assistant coach will be joining Jeff Bzdelik and Roy Rogers. The Houston Rockets are off to a pretty good start so far in their quest to replace Kevin McHale, JB Bickerstaff, and their previous coaching staff.
[Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]