In the NBA, lame-duck coaches are rare. Either the team likes the coach and locks him up long term, or they don’t and want to get a new guy in the door.
That didn’t happen with Houston and Mike D’Antoni, where an on-again, off-again summer contract negotiation (and rumored one-year offers) led to no deal getting done. D’Antoni is coaching through the final season of his contract and then… who knows?
Just don’t try to sell to D’Antoni that his status impacts him or the team. Via Mark Medina of the USA Today.
“It’s not going to change the way I coach or how I feel trying to compete,” D’Antoni told USA TODAY Sports. “So then we’ll see next summer with what happens.”
“I got a great group of guys that I don’t think care. They won’t be affected by it,” D’Antoni said. “I won’t be affected by it. So it’s a non-issue.”
Right now he is right, this is not an issue. Houston’s inconsistent defense is an issue, but nobody on the team is thinking about D’Antoni’s status while going through practices or games.
Where it becomes an issue is if there is a player conflict — if Russell Westbrook and James Harden started to disagree about the offense’s direction (as happened last year with Harden and Chris Paul) — and the sides don’t want to deal with D’Antoni because they see him as a short-timer. It could undermine D’Antoni with long-term issues.
Short term, the Rockets are just trying to figure out how to win.
How well that goes could well determine if D’Antoni — and other decision-makers in the organization — are back next season.