Rockets Rumors: John Lucas Gaining Momentum for Job; Jeff Van Gundy in Mix

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2020

FILE - In this Sept. 17, 2018, file photo, U.S. basketball coach Jeff Van Gundy speaks from the sidelines of the team's FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 qualifier game against Panama in Panama City. Van Gundy has an idea on how to fix the NBA All-Star Game. His plan: Eliminate it. Van Gundy, the former NBA coach and now longtime television commentator for ABC and ESPN, said what he's seeing now from the game is embarrassing and
Arnulfo Franco/Associated Press

Jeff Van Gundy, Stephen Silas and John Lucas have reportedly emerged as the three finalists for the Houston Rockets' head coaching vacancy.

Tim McMahon of ESPN reported news of the finalists, with Marc Stein of the New York Times adding context.

Lucas, a Rockets assistant, has gained momentum in the search thanks to the support of James Harden, Russell Westbrook and new general manager Rafael Stone. Van Gundy met with Rockets brass Wednesday.

The 66-year-old Lucas has been a head coach for three franchises but has never lasted more than two seasons and has not held the lead position on a staff since 2003. He compiled a 173-258 record with the San Antonio Spurs, Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Hiring Lucas would be a move almost entirely built on familiarity. He has been the Rockets' player development coach since 2016 and would likely carry over most of the principles from former head coach Mike D'Antoni, who chose to depart the franchise after four seasons last month.

The Rockets are in the midst of organizational upheaval after D'Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey chose to leave the franchise, the latter of whom stepped down Thursday, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Lucas would give some stability to a veteran-laden roster that still fashions itself a contender.

Van Gundy has not been an NBA coach since being fired by the Rockets after the 2006-07 season. Though he's worked with Team USA Basketball, Van Gundy has been a broadcaster for more that a decade.

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Silas is an assistant with the Dallas Mavericks and has no NBA head coaching experience.

In any case, it appears like the Rockets are not making recent head coaching success a prerequisite for this hire.