Sports

Rockets Week: Is It Time for Silas to Go?

Rockets coach Stephan Silas is on the hot seat.
Rockets coach Stephan Silas is on the hot seat. Screengrab
No one expected the Rockets to be a good team this year. When you start this many young players and your primary focus is making them better, wins and losses are not top of mind, even if the over-under of 23.5 seems incredible considering they won just 20 last season and 17 the year before. That's a whole lot of losing, even for a Houston team.

And while it is something most expected, there are still questions swirling around Rockets coach Stephen Silas. Is he the right guy for the job? Generally, that might be a moot point with the team that is assembled. In this case, there are legitimate reasons to consider a change, even during the season.

Silas is a really good guy, a brilliant young offensive mind, and someone with a pedigree for coaching. But, is he the right fit for the Rockets right now? Some things to consider.

"There's been no development."

When Eric Gordon was asked about the team's development this season, he spoke the grim words above. Coming from a veteran, that's...not good. The ONE thing this team needs is to see improvement from their young players. The team has preached "development" over and over. Now, it's possible that individual players are getting better. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter, Jr. certainly seem better as does Alperen Sengun. Jabari Smith has improved throughout the season. But, their team play is still an absolute disaster.

You might be able to write some of that off as young guys trying to figure each other (and the pro game) out, but when that kind of comment comes from someone of the authority of Gordon, that speaks volumes as to where the team is and to how poorly it's leadership is functioning.

Losing breeds a lack of discipline on a team already short on that.

There are things you can point to — defensive intensity, hustle — that seem on track, but that will only do so much for a team. Ultimately, you have to play well together and this team does not do that. They appear to have regressed a bit on things like turnovers and transition defense. They execute incredibly poorly in the half court, leading to brutal shooting percentages. These are all teachable things, but shouldn't the guys who have been here now at least a year-and-a-half have begun to figure that out a little?

It's difficult to fault KPJ, who is in his first full year as a point guard and still truly learning the position for his failures handling and distributing the ball, but a team should know that and put him in the best possible place to succeed. He is, without question, the team's best catch-and-shoot three-point shooter, yet he is having to handle things more than his fair share, giving him fewer opportunities. Sengun should be operating more in the high post. These are all ways to not only get players on the same page and help them learn to stay within a system rather than the haphazard methods we are seeing at the moment.

Do the Rockets even want to win at this point?

This might be the million dollar question. Undoubtedly, the Rockets want more wins. They want to build a culture of winning and you don't do that by losing boatloads of games. But the prize at the end of this train wreck could be one of the most uniquely talented players in a generation in Victor Wembanyama. The tankathon is real for a bunch of teams and the Rockets are acutely aware of the possibilities.

Over the last two drafts, they have drafted second and third landing Green and Smith. If they were to follow that up with a number one pick of Wemby ... that is something that could be franchise altering. This team still hustles and they aren't just going to go out there and lose on purpose, but it has got to be in the back of the minds of people in the front office that winning now might not be the best plan, so why shake up the coaching right now?

Will a change now do any good?

The Astros, when slogging through three straight 100-loss seasons, never thought about switching managers even if it was painfully obvious Bo Porter definitely was not the guy to lead the team. They bided their time and waited until the talent became such that a change made sense. In essence, if you are going to try and hire a coach, why do it when they are just going to have to suffer during an organizational shift and be forced to answer questions about whether or not he should keep his job?

The Rockets may be in a similar situation with Silas, though he certainly is a more potential long term option than Porter ever was. It would be unfortunate if a young, up-and-coming coach was subject to this disaster after signing on for James Harden, but that is how coaching works sometimes. Even if this isn't completely on the shoulder of Silas (it most certainly isn't), it could be argued that a change now would at least give the team a jolt. More likely, they'll continue to lose regardless who is at the helm.

Jeff Balke covers the Astros and Rockets weekly for the Houston Press and co-hosts the Bleav in Astros podcast with former third baseman and current Astros broadcaster Geoff Blum. Follow him on Twitter.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke