As it turned out, of course, Dallas assistant Stephen Silas eventually got the job. Accordingly, Stein reported Tuesday that other NBA teams are wondering “how perturbed Harden is” by that development.
“Houston didn’t hire either of the candidates Harden endorsed the strongest to replace Mike D’Antoni: Tyronn Lue and John Lucas,” Stein writes in his latest newsletter, which was published Tuesday afternoon.
It’s worth noting that the Rockets probably never had a realistic chance of landing Lue. Though he did interview in Houston, he took the lead job in Los Angeles only days later. Lue was already familiar with the Clippers, having been the top assistant last season to Doc Rivers. It’s also the league’s second-largest market with one of its most talented rosters, all with one of the NBA’s richest owners (Steve Ballmer) funding the team and in a city where he already lived. Lue staying in Los Angeles was and is understandable, and it was likely his choice, rather than Houston’s.
Lucas, on the other hand, was available to the Rockets at the time of their decision to hire Silas. However, it’s plausible (if not likely) that Harden’s initial preference was largely based on the fact that he already had a relationship with Lucas, who was D’Antoni’s director of player development since 2016. If that’s the case, it would seem that further conversations with Silas might have since bridged that gap.
It was reported that the Rockets would confer with their players about the coaching finalists before making a decision, so it’s hard to imagine that they would make a hire if Harden wasn’t on board with it.
Historically, Silas has reportedly had strong relationships with the NBA stars that he’s coached, which would seem to offer hope that he and Harden will hit it off — if given time to get to know each other. It’s also worth noting that Silas is said to be “working hard” to keep Lucas on the staff, potentially in a more prominent coaching role on the bench.
Per Stein, new GM Rafael Stone is the “biggest backer in the organization” of Lucas, which could further boost the odds of a deal getting done. Should the 66-year-old stick around, and especially if it’s in a bigger role as an assistant, that would likely be viewed favorably by Harden.
In Tuesday’s newsletter, Stein says that rival teams are wondering how long it might be until the Rockets seriously entertain trading Harden. But Stein, as is the case with many other national NBA reporters, says the Rockets “are adamant that Harden will not be shopped.” Now 31 years old, he is under contract in Houston for at least two more seasons.
Courtesy: CBS Sports