By Sam Bush
The Sixers’ short-time assistant coach Mike D’Antoni is headed to Houston, where the Rockets are finalizing a four-year, $16 million-plus deal to hire him as head coach, league sources told Adrian Wojnowarski of the Vertical.
The Rockets will hold a team option on the fourth year of the deal, sources said.
D’Antoni, the Sixers’ associate head coach, was the strong preference of Houston ownership, and brings with him his vaunted “Seven Seconds or Less” offense that he’ll build around All-Star guard James Harden.
Rockets center Dwight Howard has a chance to opt out of the final year of his contract, and the hiring of D’Antoni – whose style clashed with Howard’s when they were both with the Lakers – could be another factor in Howard deciding to become a free agent.
The Rockets plan to build a veteran staff around D’Antoni, which likely will include Memphis Grizzlies defensive coordinator Jeff Bzdelik and Washington Wizards assistant Roy Rogers, league sources said. Toronto Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian, whom Harden is fond of from his Oklahoma City days, is another possible assistant, sources said.
D’Antoni, 65, revolutionized NBA offenses with Steve Nash and the Suns, and views the Rockets job as his final head-coaching stop.
After the Los Angeles Lakers let go of D’Antoni at the end of the 2013-14 season, he’s spent most of his time living in West Virginia until the 76ers hired him during last season.
D’Antoni reached the Western Conference finals twice in his five seasons as the Suns coach (2003-08) and reached the playoffs twice again – once with the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.