By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Houston Rockets have fired head coach Jeff Van Gundy. He led the team for the last four seasons.
The Rockets are blaming this firing on the coach. See, they claim if Van Gundy decided sooner to return, he would have remained the head coach.
The team was defeated in Game 7 by the Utah Jazz. This was a first-round exit, which was the third in his four seasons with the franchise.
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“You’re always disappointed when you’re fired. It’s difficult,” Van Gundy said. “But I was a little bit more upset when it was being spun that I hadn’t come to a decision about wanting to coach. I had told them long ago that I wanted to coach if they wanted me.
“And, obviously, they felt that they were better served going a different direction, which is well within their right. I both accept that and yet at the same time, respectfully disagree with that decision.”
Van Gundy allegedly told the team that he wanted to come back. But the team gave him the choice to seek other employment.
He had one year left on his contract. The 45-year-old had a non-guaranteed contract for the 2007-08 season.
This week, the team offered Van Gundy a senior consulting job. He turned down the job on Friday morning. The team ultimately elected to let him go.
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“Early this week, it really hadn’t come to a head until Jeff came to us and said he wanted to coach,” Rockets GM Daryl Morey said. “At that point, we were positive about alternative candidates.”
The Rockets have reportedly reached out to Rick Adelman. He previously was a head coach with the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings.
Under Van Gundy, the Rockets went 182-146. The team went 52-30 this season.
Van Gundy is expected to be a guest analyst for ESPN during their TV coverage of the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs playoff game.
“I was going to do this regardless of my situation for a few games,” Van Gundy said. “As far as long term, I hadn’t really thought about it until last night, when I sort of knew that I was going to be fired. So I haven’t really had a chance to think about it too much.”
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