John Lucas’ Houston coaching candidacy reportedly gains momentum

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Tyronn Lue is out of the picture as coach of the Houston Rockets. In the end, he went to the ready-made contending team he already worked for.

That makes the other finalist for the Houston job — broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy — the leading candidate, right? Not so fast, my friend.

With GM Daryl Morey also walking out of the picture, the Houston candidacy of assistant coach John Lucas is gaining a lot of momentum, reports Marc Stein of the New York Times.

Van Gundy met with Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta and Houston front office personnel Thursday for a second time. He is certainly still in the mix.

But we all know how the NBA works — if the team’s two superstars want something, it probably happens. If the two stars and the new GM want something, only the owner can override that kind of momentum.

If Houston hires John Lucas it gets a highly respected former NBA head coach — but one who has not been a head coach since 2003 in Cleveland. He has been a player development specialist since then.

Lucas would be locked into a hard-to-change small-ball roster led by isolation-heavy players in James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Rockets are what they are, and changing the coach — or GM — only changes so much.