Kevin McHale Fired in Houston
It is inevitable. Early in the season some team starts off too slow, the front office gets anxious, and then the Woj bomb drops, the coach is fired. This season the title belongs to the Houston Rockets and their now former Head Coach Kevin McHale. Coming off of a 56-26 season that saw their team rise up to 2nd in the Western Conference, and a Conference Finals berth the man that managed the players and games is gone.
There is no argument against the fact that the Rockets started the season absolutely terrible, they didn’t lost 3 games in a row all of last year, yet this year they have two separate losing streaks of three and four games. However, there is reason to pause. This team has endured an injury to their starting point guard, and has been forced to start Ty Lawson, who has no history with his new teammates. The combination of Lawson and James Harden was expected to begin problematic, because both are guards who excel with the ball in their hands. Whether this is the reason Lawson has put up paltry stats so far or not, the numbers speak for themselves. He is averaging 36 minutes a game, scoring 9 points on 33 percent shooting. In more minutes than his career average, Lawson is below all of his career averages.It begs the question, is it really the coaches fault that his players are not performing up to expectations.
Eleven games is about one eighth of the season, not the largest sample size, but also not the smallest. Again, there is no denying that McHale did not have his team performing well, but one would think his history of consistent improvement would grant him a little more leeway than eleven games. McHale has always been looked at as a player friendly coach, who did not dominate the X’s and O’s, but was able to manage a team. The front office better hope that the next coach can rally this team the way McHale has done throughout his tenure.
The team is left with J.B. Bickerstaff in control now, who has been an assistant throughout McHale’s entire coaching tenure with the Rockets. He is a product of McHale’s alma mater Minnesota as well, but never made it onto an NBA roster. He has served as an assistant to his father in Charlotte with the Bobcats from 2004-2007. Then spent the next four seasons in Minnesota where he served as an assistant to Randy Wittman, Kevin McHale, and finally Kurt Rambis. Bickerstaff finally landed on a winning team when McHale hired him in 2011 to begin as an assistant on the Houston Rockets coaching staff. From then until now, he has helped McHale build this team, and the Rockets can only hope he finds a way to bring a new energy to this roster.