According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Kevin McHale will be the next Houston Rockets coach once the final details are worked out over the long holiday weekend. I’m sure Kevin is sitting in some cabana with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander sipping on mojitos talking about how to use Luis Scola effectively and laughing about how many shots Kevin Martin takes.
Actually, take that last one back. I’m sure McHale will cry over the amount of shots Martin takes. But he’ll hapilly deal with the problem once he sees all the zeroes in his paycheck. I’m sure Alexander is hoping McHale’s pedigree as a player will help the Rockets mature a bit. They were pretty good at home but terrible on the road… a problem with young teams with no real established veteran star to calm things down when the opposing crowd gets hostile and the other team is starting to get energized. McHale’s championship experience in Boston, rather than his limited coaching resume in Minnesota, will be what he leans on most in teaching the young Rockets how to win.
Of course, Houston’s roster is far from complete. They have eight players under contract and three more they can bring back by exercising team options. The offense will still flow through Martin and Scola. And Scola could stand to benefit from Mr. Post Moves coaching him. But the team was just about in the bottom third in the league defensively last season. And defense is now the big buzz in the NBA. Miami, Chicago and Boston were all defensive monsters. LA just hired a defensive-minded coach in Mike Brown. McHale’s biggest challenge in Houston will be how to balance out the crazy offense with a passable defense so the team can win tight games.
The Rockets could have gone with some more experienced coaches out there. Instead, they are looking to McHale to be both coach and veteran leader. They’ll try to sign or trade for one, I’m sure. But if they can’t, it’ll be up to McHale to not only teach them how to be players in the NBA… but how to be NBA players.