Report: Sixers Associate Head Coach Mike D’Antoni Interviewed By Rockets
According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Sixers associate head coach Mike D’Antoni interviewed for the Rockets vacant head coaching job.
J.B. Bickerstaff, who took over as interim coach when the Rockets fired Kevin McHale after a 4-7 start, has withdrawn his name from consideration to take over as the full time head coach.
The Rockets finished the season with a 41-41 record and lost in five games to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs.
The Sixers hired Mike D’Antoni as associate head coach back in December, just weeks after naming Jerry Colangelo as chairman of basketball operations.
D’Antoni rose to prominence with the Phoenix Suns beginning in the 2003-04 season, combining forces with Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire to compile a 253-136 record in Phoenix, including back-to-back trips to the Western Conference Finals.
D’Antoni became known for his seven seconds or less offensive system, with an emphasis on pace and the three-point shot which revolutionized the way teams played. The Suns finished either first or second in points per 100 possessions in each full season D’Antoni was the head coach in Phoenix, while also finishing in the top-2 in points per 100 possessions in three of D’Antoni’s four playoff appearances with the Suns.
If D’Antoni would get an offer, it would bring up an interesting decision for new president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo. Just days after Colangelo was hired, Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that Colangelo could be tempted to promote D’Antoni to head coach in order to keep him.
To further complicate matters, the Pacers decided not to renew the contract of former head coach Frank Vogel, making him a coaching free agent. Vogel, a native of New Jersey, compiled a 250-181 record in his six years in Indiana, and had a top-10 defense in each of the last five seasons, including back-to-back seasons with the top ranked defense in the league.
The Pacers finished 3rd in defensive rating this year despite losing long-time defensive linchpin Roy Hibbert.
Vogel is likely to rise to the top of the list for any team searching for a head coach, a list which includes the Houston Rockets and the Sacramento Kings.
For his part, Bryan Colangelo says he has told ownership that Brett Brown will be the head coach of the Sixers, something which Brown certainly deserves after going through the rebuild as willingly as he did. Still, between the high profile, established names available and Colangelo’s previous relationship with Mike D’Antoni, that conviction could be tested.
Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.