Kurt Helin

Rockets GM Daryl Morey explains firing of Kevin McHale (VIDEO)

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Kevin McHale is out as the Rockets’ coach after 11 games this season — and a rough 4-7 start with a few ugly losses. Assistant J.B. Bickerstaff will take over the team on an interim basis (and with a short leash).

Rockets GM Daryl Morey met with the media Wednesday afternoon to explain his decision.

So why J.B. Bickerstaff as the replacement?

Not surprisingly to anyone who knew him, McHale handled it with class when speaking to the Houston Chronicle.

“We were starting to address some of the issues that were the reason I was let go,” McHale said. “We just weren’t playing with any juice, with any rhythm. We haven’t been able to get the problems solved.

“We probably had more meetings in last six weeks than in my previous four years here.

“It wasn’t working.”

Spurs’ Manu Ginobili out at least two games with hip tightness

Manu Ginobili
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I’m not sure what Manu Ginobili did over the summer, but we should trace his movements back because he apparently found the Fountain of Youth — he has played his best basketball in years to open this season. Look at it through this snapshot: his PER of 25.1 this season would be a career best if he can maintain it. And he’s had a Hall of Fame career.

All of which is why the Spurs are going to miss him the next couple of games. Ginobili will miss the next two games due to bilateral hip tightness, then be re-evaluated Saturday’s before the Spurs face Memphis.

Ginobili is out for games against Denver and New Orleans. He had missed time due to a groin injury earlier this season, but dropped 17 on Monday. With him at age 38 you can be sure the Spurs will err on the side of caution in bringing him back.

The Spurs have been one of the best teams in the NBA to start the season, outscoring opponents by 10.5 points per 100 possessions (second only to Golden State). Like every time one of the Spurs players goes down, nobody should expect much of a step back. Someone always just steps up for this team (watch for more Patty Mills run).

Kidd said he hopes Jabari Parker returns “in the next couple days”

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The Bucks’ future anchor in the post Jabari Parker is out again, this time with a sprained right foot. It’s not something that is considered serious, but for a guy who missed 57 games last season due to injury (torn ACL) and played only five this season, it’s not ideal.

Coach Jason Kidd made it sound like Parker will not be out long at all this time around, as reported at BrewHoop.com.

“I think hopefully it’s in a few days that he’s back playing and then I think it’s not a serious injury. I think when you look at the things he’s done up to this point, it’s alright for him to be sore. And so hopefully he’s back sooner than later….

“I think any time you have an injury or you’re coming back, there are going to be parts of the body that are sore, and I think just his foot is sore and hopefully he’s back in the next couple days.”

It’s a little more than sore; the Bucks officially called it a “talonavicular joint sprain.” Milwaukee should make sure he is healthy before he steps back on the court.

Hopefully, it’s just a few games. Parker looked rusty his first couple games back had his best game in the win over the Cavaliers on Saturday. He was starting to get his rhythm back.

What’s next Houston? J.B. Bickerstaff given small window to fix team


The firing of Kevin McHale as the head coach of the Houston Rockets was the ultimate “we can’t fire the players, so let’s fire the coach” move. This team won 56 games, had a top-10 defense, and reached the conference finals last season — McHale didn’t forget how to coach over the summer. Yet James Harden was back to his defensive bad habits, he wasn’t meshing with Ty Lawson on offense, Dwight Howard was in-and-out of the lineup with injuries and inconsistent when he did play, and there was a general listlessness around the team on the court. It was that last thing that made GM Daryl Morey think McHale had lost the locker room, and it was time to move let him go. Even the owner was frustrated with the level of effort.

This is a win-now team, patience was not an option.

Now what happens?

First rising coaching star and Rockets’ assistant J.B. Bickerstaff — son of long-time NBA coach Bernie Bickerstaff — will get a chance. He is the guy credited with the improved defense in Houston last season, and he will get an opportunity to revive that mindset and turn the ship around. The Rockets are 4-7 (two of those wins came against the Clippers without Chris Paul and the Kings without DeMarcus Cousins), and while it hasn’t been pretty, that’s a hole the team can still climb out of.

The timing of the firing was not coincidental — the Rockets next three weeks includes games against Philadelphia, Brooklyn, New Orleans, Sacramento, Portland (Wednesday night), and two against slow-starting Memphis. Plus there are a couple stretches of days off in there where Bickerstaff can run practices to install systems and sets he wants.

But this is a win-now team, patience is not an option. Bickerstaff is the interim coach, and his leash will be short.

Adrian Wojnarowski suggested some big-name coaches could be lurking in the wings if Bickerstaff is not up to the task.

Nevertheless, the Rockets are pushing for results now, and several elite coaches with Rockets ties in the past – including Jeff Van Gundy and Tom Thibodeau – could lurk as future candidates. Another strong candidate with Houston ties, Charlotte’s Steve Clifford, could be a free agent this summer.


My guess is Bickerstaff will get to finish out the season unless the team goes into a complete tailspin. However, unless the interim coach can demand the job with the performance of his team the rest of the season — like Frank Vogel did in Indiana — expect Morey to go big name hunting next offseason.

This is a win-now team, patience is not an option.


Wizards’ Martell Webster to be out for season after hip surgery

Martell Webster
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We told you back before the Wizards’ season tipped off it could come to this. The bone spur in Martell Webster‘s hip kept him out of training camp, but he wanted to find an alternative to surgery, or maybe just play through it. He didn’t want to go under the knife.

Webster will go under the knife Friday, and it will end his season reports J. Michael at CSNMidAtlantic.com.

Martell Webster has tried to gut out the pain in his right hip, which has a tear in the connective tissue because of a bone chip, but he will have surgery on it Friday, CSNmidatlantic.com has confirmed, which will end his season without ever starting.

As a result, the Wizards will file for a Disabled Player Exception with the NBA which gives them the option of acquiring a 15th player at half of his $5.5 million salary slot. They also can acquire a player via trade but he’d have to be in the final year of his contract.

The recovery from this injury could last more than nine months and bleed into next year’s training camp. Webster is under contract for next season, but with a $2 million buyout the Wizards may consider. I expect the buyout will happen.

Webster never got a chance to see how he would fit with the small-ball Wizards this season due to the injury. The 10-year NBA veteran has averaged 8.7 points a game over the course of his career.