Support for Kevin McHale Reportedly Strong Despite Rockets' Playoff Struggles

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2014

Apr 20, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale watches from the sidelines during the second quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers in game one during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets may be against the wall in their first-round series with the Portland Trail Blazers, but apparently coach Kevin McHale isn't.

According to an ESPN report from Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne, McHale isn't in danger of losing his current post with the Rockets:

The Houston Rockets have yet to pick up their option on the fourth year of Kevin McHale's contract, but sources close to the situation said this week that support for the coach remains strong within the organization and among key players despite the team's struggles thus far in the playoffs.

McHale did a good job of leading Houston to the postseason last year, with what was then an upstart team.

The offseason addition of Dwight Howard gave the Rockets a lot more balance, and a big man with whom McHale could work. Behind Howard and James Harden, Houston went 54-28, tied with the Blazers and the Miami Heat for the fifth-best record in the league.

But regular-season success doesn't really ensure anything in the NBA these days. Just ask George Karl or Lionel Hollins, who were canned after 50-win seasons last summer.

Stein and Shelburne hint at that being a possibility for McHale as well, but reiterate that it's not likely, and add that Houston's coach has some important people in his corner:

Although there is no guarantee he would survive a first-round exit -- particularly a sweep -- sources told ESPN.com that the prevailing feeling in team circles is that McHale "deserves more than one season with this group." McHale has strong support from high-profile Rockets such as Howard and forward Chandler Parsons, sources said, and it's believed general manager Daryl Morey and his front office also prefer to see this group -- which is the youngest team in the postseason with an average age of 25.7 -- grow together.

Sources say McHale likewise is regarded as a favorite of Rockets owner Les Alexander.

If given the opportunity to grow organically, as the Oklahoma City Thunder has, the Rockets could be legitimate contenders in a year or two. They certainly have the talent, but chemistry and familiarity go a long way toward success. Both are key ingredients in the success of the Heat and San Antonio Spurs.

And consistency extends beyond just the players on the roster. Having the same coaching staff in place helps foster trust between those on the floor and those on the bench.

As all those ingredients come together over the next few years, the Rockets should improve. If not, McHale may find his own back against the wall.

 

Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.