Earlier this week, the Sacramento Kings made the first coaching change of the season when they fired Luke Walton and appointed Alvin Gentry as the interim head coach. Now, another team at the bottom of the Western Conference is considering following suit.
The Houston Rockets front office is currently considering the future of head coach Stephen Silas, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. While nothing is imminent, Silas only has one year left on his contract, and the whispers have started.
Perhaps the most notable item from Fischer’s report is that GM Rafael Stone has been known to address the team about tactics during practice, and is particularly close to assistant coach John Lucas — the favorite to take over if a change is made.
By all accounts, Stone and Silas remain close, riding on team flights and evaluating game film together. But Stone is more hands-on than the typical NBA general manager.
On one occasion, Stone walked onto the practice court to preach defensive philosophy, sources said, and is known to consult players on tactical improvements. If he were to make a change at head coach, it seems Stone would maintain a similar level of influence over the coaching staff and Rockets’ rotation, an increasing trend around the NBA.
But despite being on the hot seat, Silas is projecting confidence.
“I don’t need like, approval,” Silas said earlier this week. “I believe in what I do. I think I’m good at it. The players respond when I challenge them or coach them. Whether we won or lost tonight, I’m the same coach.”
“I’ve been waiting and preparing all my life for this job, so I’m not going to make it worse than it is,” Silas continued. “I’m going to coach these guys as hard as I can. I’m going to do the things that I believe in. I’m going to do them in a way that is smart — that I feel is smart — and a way that is well-thought-through. And if it works out, it works out. I’ve been waiting too long for this not to do it in an honest way. So, yeah, I get it. I totally get it. But I’ve been there before, I grew up in it, and this is the job I wanted. This is where I want to be, so we’ll just go from there.”
The Rockets have the worst record in the league at 2-16, and recently went on a 15-game losing streak. Since the Rockets moved to Houston in 1971, they’ve lost 15-plus games straight three times. Two of them have come under Silas in the last calendar year, including a franchise-worst 20-game losing streak last season.
Any time you struggle that much, there are going to be questions about your ability to lead the team. And the Rockets haven’t just been losing this season. Twelve of their defeats have come by double digits, they’re last in the league in turnovers (18.9 per game) and they have the worst offense in the league. In fact, their 98.1 offensive rating has them on pace to be the first team with an offensive rating under 100 since “The Process” Sixers in 2016 — a team that finished 10-72.
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At the same time, Silas is in an impossible spot this season. For one, the franchise won’t let him play his best player, John Wall. The veteran point guard is sitting out until the front office can figure out a trade. But given his injury history and massive contract, no deal appears to be forthcoming. That’s left Wall sitting on the bench in street clothes while the team falls apart.
In addition, the Rockets have an extremely young roster that features five rookies and three other players in their second year. In fact, everyone on the team save for Wall — not even playing — Eric Gordon and DJ Augustin have five for fewer years of experience. This team is learning on the fly, and it’s not surprising that there have been so many mistakes and sloppy play. Simply put, this team isn’t built to win this season.