At the top of the list of coaches on the hot seat this season is Kevin McHale in Houston.
The Rockets have invested big in Dwight Howard and James Harden and the two didn’t really mesh well last season in what seemed a confused system. Howard complained about not getting enough touches and still insists on playing more in the post even though his real strength is mobility and the pick-and-roll. Harden wasn’t comfortable with the ball not in his hands late. This is a classic case where it is not all on McHale that these two puzzle pieces haven’t fit yet, but if it doesn’t happen this year Houston isn’t going to fire the players. The fact that McHale is in the last year of his contract ads to the pressure.
Except McHale is feeling none of it. The pressure to win, sure, but not about his job. Check out what he told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
“I got pretty comfortable with myself a lot of decades ago,” McHale, 56, said. “I haven’t changed much….
“(Being in the last year of his contract) has no bearing on me,” McHale said. “I never believed that. If you’re going to play better in the last year of your contract because it’s the last year of your contract, I question who you are. If you are going to coach better because you’re in the last year of your contract, I question that guy.
“I’m going to do the same thing I’ve always done. I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can with these guys, try to get these guys to be the best possible team we can be, and you know what, like as a player, you do the best job you can. If it’s not good enough, it’s not good enough.”
The bad news for McHale is that it is likely the team takes a step back from last season’s 54 wins after a rough off-season. No matter what he does.
The Rockets will likely still hover around 50 wins, they are a playoff team in the West, but this team lost a lot of quality depth (gone are Chandler Parsons, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik) and didn’t replace it with Bosh like they had hoped (and thought). Rockets GM Daryl Morey is still swinging for the third star on his team, but this team isn’t as good as a year ago, yet the expectations in Houston seem higher.
If (I’d actually say when) this team fails to live up to expectations, management is not going to fire the players.
Unless McHale has a great coaching trick up his long sleeve.