Rockets clean house with Mike D'Antoni's coaching staff after another playoff disappointment

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor

The Houston Rockets’ season again ended in disappointing fashion against the Golden State Warriors. Another strong regular season, another postseason in which the team looked like the NBA’s biggest threat to the Warriors and another loss at the hands of the NBA’s currenty dynasty.

In response, the team is turning over just about every part of its coaching staff save for head coach Mike D’Antoni.

Rockets fire several assistants, but not Mike D’Antoni

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The firings actually began last week, when the Rockets dropped D’Antoni’s No. 2 and a well-regarded defensive coach in Jeff Bzdelik, per the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.

Then came the report that the third name on the Rockets’ coaching staff roster was headed out.

Then another assistant and the team’s video coordinator.

And then the team’s player development coach.

Assistants Brett Gunning and John Lucas are reportedly among the coaches staying, but it looks like they’re going to have a lot of new co-worker names to learn next season. Of course, the coach with the most to be concerned about is probably D’Antoni himself.

Is Mike D’Antoni out the door next for the Rockets?

With about half of his coaching staff out the door, there is now chatter in the coaching community that D’Antoni’s job status is in doubt, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein. D’Antoni reportedly only has one year left on his contract, giving the team the ability to cleanly break from him next offseason.

Of course, dropping D’Antoni would be a massive gamble for the Rockets. Sports history is littered with teams that hit mediocrity after deciding to fire a coach that regularly delivered strong title contenders without actually winning a title.

The Rockets have been arguably the second-best team in the NBA under Mike D'Antoni. Should they expect better? (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Rockets have been arguably the second-best team in the NBA under Mike D'Antoni. Should they expect better? (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)

Granted, D’Antoni, whose reputation for fast, offensive-focused teams makes him an easy target for criticism, still hasn’t reached the NBA Finals despite having coached seven 50-win teams and three 60-win teams with the Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets.

However, D’Antoni also delivered the only team to ever take the Kevin Durant Warriors to seven games last year. He has also delivered three of the 10 winningest teams in Rockets history in his three years in Houston, finding a way to beautifully mesh James Harden and Chris Paul as the former developed into one of the best scorers in NBA history.

Can you really fault a quality coach for not being able to beat one of the best teams in NBA history? And, more importantly, do you really think you can do better in your next coaching search?

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