Ask an NBA coach whether another NBA coach got fired too quickly, and – regardless of the circumstances involved – there’s a good chance the answer is yes.
Coaches understand the pressures of the job, and they empathize with each other. They defend each other.
But even in that context, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has particularly sharp words for the Rockets’ firing of Kevin McHale.
Carlisle, via Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News:
“It’s preposterous,” he said. “It’s beyond belief. I’m really shocked. It’s just hard to believe that something could happen at this stage to a guy who took a team unexpectedly to the conference finals last year. To have this happen after just 11 games is just preposterous. Nobody expects this. It’s very disappointing to hear. But Kevin will be fine. There will be a lot of people wanting to hire him. I can tell you that.”
Carlisle and McHale played together with the Celtics, so that could explain some of Carlisle’s displeasure.
But what else were the Rockets supposed to do if the players were so dissatisfied with McHale (and James Harden)? This is a talented team that still has plenty of potential – more because of Harden than McHale. As Houston general manager Daryl Morey explained, there’s little margin for error in the Western Conference.
It’s unfortunate for McHale the Rockets were in this position, and he might not even deserve the most blame. But this still might have been Houston’s best move.
Perhaps, Carlisle knows more about the interworking of the Rockets’ locker room, but it’s difficult to imagine what he’d know that would actually make this firing so unforgivable.