With the Houston Rockets officially eliminated from the playoffs in a second-round gentleman's sweep to the Los Angeles Lakers, shoes are beginning to drop.
Head coach Mike D'Antoni is set to inform the team he won't return next season, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday.
ESPN Sources: Houston coach Mike D’Antoni is informing the franchise’s ownership today that he’s becoming a free agent and won’t return to the Rockets next season.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 13, 2020
Stop us if you've heard that one before: But that creates another high-profile head coaching vacancy to be filled this offseason, along with the Philadelphia 76ers, New Orleans Pelicans, Indiana Pacers and, of course, the Bulls. The Brooklyn Nets filled theirs by hiring Steve Nash in early September.
No word yet on who the Rockets will pursue, or what type of candidate they'll be looking for. Saddled with Russell Westbrook's now-bloated supermax contract (plus James Harden's), and bereft of future draft capital after recent trades for Westbrook and Robert Covington, the franchise finds itself at an impasse.
D'Antoni, for his part, won't lack suitors. When it was first rumored he might depart Houston after the expiration of his contract, Wojnarowski reported him as a possible Pacers target. Upon that rumor becoming official, Wojnarowski added the 76ers as a possible destination.
D’Antoni will be considered among a group of candidates for the Philadelphia 76ers coaching opening, sources tell ESPN. D'Antoni was an assistant for several months under Brett Brown before accepting the Rockets job four years ago. https://t.co/MeoUrwWADm— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 13, 2020
While the Bulls were once upon a time linked to D'Antoni before they hired Vinny Del Negro in 2008, no public reports have yet tied the two together this time around. Given his stature as a candidate (he's fourth among active coaches in regular season victories, sixth in playoff wins), he'll likely command a high dollar amount, and demand a win-now situation.
As the Bulls prepare for voluntary group workouts at the Advocate Center on Sept. 21 (for which COVID-19 testing begins Sept. 14), interviews with a wide range of head coaching candidates are underway.