After big changes for the Houston Rockets in the off-season, the new general manager and head coach of the team stressed that the main goal of the franchise remains the same: In the race for the championship, James Harden, an old MVP candidate, will be the leading figure skater of the franchise.
For the past eight years, our goal was to win the championship because we had James Harden, general manager of Rafael Stone, an old Rockets front office employee who was promoted after Daryl Morey’s departure, speak at a virtual press conference to introduce our new head coach, Stephen Silas. We still have James Harden. Our goal is to win the championship, and if you have it, you’re halfway there.
It’s up to me, Stephen, and the whole team to figure out what the next step is, but this is the most important thing.
Silas, 47, whose 25 years of experience as an assistant coach of the NBA, including a stint as Rick Carlisle’s offensive coordinator with the Dallas Mavericks, was selected among the candidates interviewed by Rocketts to replace Mike D’Anthony.
D’Anthony, who decided not to try to return to the Rockets after his contract expired at the end of the season, left Houston with a franchise record win of 0.682% and rolled 217-101 in four regular seasons. The Rockets, led by D’Anthony, have won at least one play-off series per season and have reached the finals of the Western Conference in 2018.
Silas, who confirmed the return of former coach John Lucas to the Rockets after being a finalist at the Houston Head Coaches’ Tournament, met expectations by leaving a list of recent MVPs to Harden and Russell Westbrook.
For me this is my first coaching experience and it’s great to be in a winning situation, Silas said. I’m a coach now. I’m not worried about the altitude and all that, but it’s exciting for me to think about the championship now. And I’m ready. I’m ready.
Silas, who spoke with Harden and Westbrook during the interview, said he intended to change Houston’s unique offensive system, but that he wouldn’t make any major changes. Missiles are heavily dependent on isolation, which breaks the general trend of the league, especially since Harden is probably the best individual player in the history of the NBA.
According to NBA.com, Harden has played more in the singles than any other team in the last two seasons. Last season they averaged 14.1 per game – the Rockets (22.6) and the Portland Trail Blazers (11.2) were the only teams to achieve an average double-digit dose per game – and scored 1.12 points for possession in those games. Westbrook (7.4 Isosen per match, 0.87 points for possession in those matches) was second in the one-time league.
There were six of them on the attack and it makes no sense for me to come here and make big changes, Silas said, referring to Rocket’s offensive effectiveness with an average of 112.5 points per 100 possessions. What I’m going to do is try to make things a little easier for these guys, do a few small things that make defense decisions and keep them a little harder. Be a little more versatile in your attack and give these guys some strength, but make a few adjustments here and there so we can go from the sixth best offensive team to the first [or] second best offensive team. By playing on the field, letting the boys go forward and attacking the defense before it’s in place, bringing the defense forward early and keeping it moving and all that.
There’s not much to do, even if there was, and there will be times when there is, because that’s what [Harden and Westbrook] do well. I’m not taking away what they did as a group. I’ll just add something else and zoom in.
Stone said he expected a freer formation next season after the Rockets played an unusually small ball after trading four teams in February, which led Robert Covington to travel to Houston for Clint Capel’s central and first-round prize.
We’re certainly not going to go into this off-season and say we don’t want anyone more than 6-7, Stone said. We want great basketball players.
According to Stone, the Rocketts didn’t necessarily intend to play on a small scale all the time last season, but they did because they put talented players first. Sources told ESPN that the rockets were hoping to negotiate for a big man in reserve after making a deal with Capela and an engagement with PJ Tucker, a 1.80m man, as the launch center, and were particularly optimistic that negotiations with Oklahoma City Thunder on Nerlens Noel, a free agent this season, would fail.
Houston has limited flexibility because of the maximum salary included in the contract for Harden and Westbrook, which already opposes the luxury tax that owner Tilman Fertitta says he is willing to pay for any measure that would improve Houston’s chances of winning the title. Stone said the Missiles, as always during Maury’s 14 years at the helm of a basketball franchise, will be aggressive within the limits of their pay.
We will remain extremely aggressive, Mr. Stone said. We’re gonna try. Whether we get there or not, I don’t know, but I can guarantee we’ll work on it, and I’m very, very anxious to get there.
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