The Houston Rockets have something of a depressing year ahead due to the negative turnover in talent during the offseason. But there is a silver lining: Kevin McHale might be gone by the end of the season, unless they foolishly decide to renew his contract.
Not everything about how the Houston Rockets have been downgraded this offseason has to do with Kevin McHale. Most of it probably doesn’t. The Rockets took a bad gamble on Chris Bosh and got burned, which caused them to wait too long on making a decision regarding Chandler Parsons, not matching the offer sheet from the Dallas Mavericks. Jeremy Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Rockets added Trevor Ariza, but this is basically an inferior version of last year’s team – Dwight Howard, James Harden and players moving around them.
Harden might actually get better. Despite the misleading beard, Harden is only 25. That means he still hasn’t reached his peak, probably. But Harden and Howard aren’t the superstars that are able to draw in players. The Rockets had a shot at LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, with the ability to offer them a max salary. Both of them didn’t take the Rockets completely seriously. It’s not just about the Rockets (it’s not you, it’s me more or less). It’s also their head coach.
Kevin McHale is a hall of fame player, one of the 50 chosen ones back in 1996. But as a head coach or someone pulling the strings from the front office? He got lucky with Kevin Garnett in the draft. That’s the only thing. As a head coach, he rode the James Harden one-man show to the first round of the playoffs twice, but that’s it. If last year’s roster wasn’t good enough for him to win a playoff series with home court advantage against the Blazers, than he must be doing something wrong.
The team defense, the offense looking too much like an isolation and improvisational show of his big star and the misusing of his best point guard Jeremy Lin from the first moment he joined the team. McHale has had personal difficulties along the way which makes judging him a bit unfair, but in the long run, despite the misleading improving regular season record, the Houston Rockets haven’t really improved as a team despite the roster looking better with each passing year.
The Rockets have an out with McHale’s expiring deal. Maybe the root cause of their underachieving ways has to do with Daryl Morey being an overrated general manager – someone who is great with numbers and analytics but not so much when it comes to making decisions that don’t always correlate with the world of statistics. McHale isn’t the only thing wrong with the Rockets, and he isn’t completely incompetent. However, there are much better coaches than him, and unless some miracle happens and the Rockets reach at least the conference final, this should be his final season with the team.