Report: Kevin McHale Front-Runner For Rockets Job

Kevin McHale, via SI.comHere’s Kevin McHale’s coaching resume:  

In 2004-05, he coached the final 31 games of the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves after he, as VP of Basketball Operations, fired Flip Saunders.  He went 19-12 to finish the season. 

In 2008-09, he coached the final 63 games of the season for the Minnesota Timberwoves after he, as VP of Basketball Operations, fired Randy Whitman.  He went 20-43 to finish the season. 

That’s all Kevin McHale has under his belt as a head coach.  Two incomplete seasons because he had to fire the guy he hired to do the job.  But it, apparently, is enough to make him the front-runner for the vacancy in Houston

No final decision has officially been reached, nor are contract negotiations underway, but McHale has clearly separated himself from Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, sources said. McHale made a strong final impression in conversations with Houston officials on Thursday in Chicago, and could receive a formal offer in the next week.

The Rockets are still deliberating on different scenarios involving the three finalists, sources say, but McHale is the candidate to beat for the job. Rockets owner Les Alexander must still ultimately sign off on the recommendation of GM Daryl Morey and his front office staff.

Dwane Casey is facing some of the same problems Tom Thibodeau faced in Boston before finally landing the Bulls job.  Hiring a coach in the middle of a long playoff run is difficult because you’d like someone to walk in and start working right away.  Hiring Casey means you have to wait until the Mavs run is over… and that could take another month.  

Frank, however, is a different story.  He’s got six full seasons of experience under his belt and a year of additional tutelage under Doc Rivers.  Three of his seasons in New Jersey were above .500 and another was an even 41-41.  So he’s no slouch.  Under Rivers, he was in charge of the Celtics defense, which spent another year among the best in the league.  And in that role he’s learned to interact with big personalities like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. 

Frank is considered as good as gone in Boston because there are enough vacancies and he’s got enough of a resume to get something.  McHale, meanwhile, must be making up for his lack of resume by giving some amazing interviews.  Rockets GM Daryl Morey is a darling among bloggers, mostly because he’s very receptive to the new wave of statistical analysis.  But the stats aren’t there to support this decision (if the report is true).  The reaction will be very interesting.

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