Rockets to Hire Stephen Silas as New Coach

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta will hire his second coach according to reports.
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta will hire his second coach according to reports. Photo by Jeff Balke
According to multiple reports, the Rockets will hire Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the team's new head coach after reaching an agreement on Wednesday. Silas will replace Mike D'Antoni, who decided not to return after the season, as the teams 15th head coach. Other candidates for the job included former Rockets coach and TV analyst Jeff Van Gundy, and current Rockets assistant John Lucas, who will likely remain with the team.

Silas, 47, will join a brand new regime at the helm of the Rockets which also includes Rafael Stone, who replaced GM Daryl Morey after Morey recently stepped down from his position. Morey is reported set to join the Philadelphia 76ers as the team's head of basketball operations this week.

The departures and additions mark a seismic shift inside the Rockets organization that changed owners just three years ago. Virtually every position within the administration of the team has turned over since 2017, with the hiring of Silas and promoting of Stone the most recent.

The son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, Stephen Silas has been an assistant in the NBA for 20 years. He is well regarded as a talented, offensive-minded coach and credited with aiding the development of guards like Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry and Kimba Walker. He has worked as an assistant under former Rockets head coach Rick Carlisle and assistant Steve Clifford.

Silas apparently blew the Rockets away with his thoughts on the offense and was given the thumbs up by Rockets players as well.

The team is expected to surround Silas with a bevy of talented coaches with former head coaching experience. In addition to Lucas, some of the potential names reported include former Trail Blazers and Pacers coach Nate McMillan, and former Suns and Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. Interestingly, both were rivals of the Rockets in the '90s as members of the Sonics and Jazz, respectively.

It seems fairly obvious with the choices that the Rockets plan to remain committed to their guard-centric offense, which makes sense given the huge deals committed to both James Harden and Russell Westrbrook. But the team still hopes to be competitive in attempting to retain the service of Austin Rivers and P.J. Tucker, perhaps using some or all of their mid-level exception, assuming the cap numbers aren't reduced thanks to COVID-19.

Silas will not have as much time as some coaches to get ramped up. The Association is pushing to start the new season on Christmas Day, traditionally a big day for the NBA on television. If that does indeed happen, that will be a quick turnaround for the Rockets new coach and his staff.

Fortunately, with a veteran team and a modern, offensive-minded coach, it wouldn't be a shock to see much of the team's philosophies remain in place. But at least now the team has the beginnings of a new basketball administration to shepherd them through the season and beyond. And by choosing a younger, less experienced coach (and GM), it shows the team is not content with the status quo. What that means for the season is unclear, but at least they are moving forward following one of the weirdest and most difficult seasons in league history.
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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