Rockets Rumors: 'Slim' Chance Mike D'Antoni Returns as HC After This Season

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2019

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni during the second half of an NBA basketball game, in San Antonio, Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019. San Antonio won 135-133 in double overtime. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets remain one of the top teams in the NBA at 15-7 entering Monday, but head coach Mike D'Antoni still reportedly has a "slim" chance to keep his job beyond 2019-20 without a championship. 

"A source with direct knowledge of these dynamics expressed serious skepticism that D'Antoni would return after this season," Sam Amick and John Hollinger of The Athletic reported.  

D'Antoni is in his fourth year with the Rockets and has had plenty of regular-season success with the team, winning at least 50 games in each of his first three seasons. The squad had the best record in the NBA in 2017-18.

The disappointments have come in the playoffs with zero NBA finals appearances in this span, losing to the Golden State Warriors in each of the last two years.

Meanwhile, the two sides were unable to agree on a contract extension for the head coach, leaving D'Antoni in the final year of his deal for 2019-20.

As owner Tilman Fertitta explained, he was happy the coach's agent turned down the team's offer.

"I think his agent did me a favor, OK?" Fertitta said last May, per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. "Because if for some reason we had a horrible year and thought we needed to make a coaching change. We just got through paying off one of the other coaches, I believe. So, I hope we win a championship and Mike comes and puts a gun to my head."

This seemingly puts the pressure on D'Antoni to win a title just to keep his job.

On the other hand, Amick and Hollinger reported "there will likely be no shortage of teams" interested in the veteran coach if he does become available this summer.