Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta says Stephen Silas was better than expected

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For the first time since 1982-83, the Houston Rockets finished an NBA season with the league’s worst record in 2020-21. But there were plenty of extenuating circumstances leading to that dubious honor.

After all, the 2020-21 Rockets dealt with an enormous amount of adversity, including a forced trade by James Harden and a wave of injuries so severe that Houston set the all-time record for players in one season.

Nonetheless, the Rockets fought hard until the year’s conclusion, and they even picked up a pair of victories over playoff teams (Milwaukee, Los Angeles Clippers) over the regular season’s final 10 games. That’s one reason why owner Tilman Fertitta has made it clear that first-year head coach Stephen Silas and general manager Rafael Stone aren’t going anywhere, and he reiterated that perspective Saturday in a new interview with the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.

On Silas being the right coach for Houston’s rebuild, Fertitta said:

There’s no doubt in my mind, no doubt. Teams at the end of the year that are out don’t usually play as hard as this team plays. I saw what I needed to see to feel comfortable. …

I think Stephen Silas did better than we even all expected. To have to play with 30 different players, no practices, playing every other day or back-to-back, and him to be able to every single night put a team out there that was competitive for nearly 48 minutes a game, I was just shocked at how competitive he kept the team. I mean, with guys that never played together, just throw five guys together.

Look at the team at the end of the year. These are guys people never expected to be in the NBA. They did a tremendous job, and a lot of that goes back to the coach.

Having a 17-55 year framed as beating expectations isn’t exactly what was planned when Silas was hired last October, with a pair of former MVPs in Harden and Russell Westbrook headlining a veteran roster.

But considering the upheaval throughout the organization in the months since, it makes sense for Fertitta to recalibrate his expectations.

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