Is James Harden the star and are the Houston Rockets the team that will get Jeff Van Gundy back into coaching in 2020-21?
It’s nearly been 15 years since the last time we saw Jeff Van Gundy coaching on an NBA sideline. However, that could be changing soon. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick (subscription required), the Rockets have interest in prying Jeff Van Gundy out of the broadcast booth. Question is, would the Rockets be the team that finally entices him to make a return to the NBA?
The last time JVG was employed by an NBA team, he was coaching the Houston Rockets during the 2006-07 season. He helped lead that Rockets team to a 52-30 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Utah Jazz in seven games.
After another first-round playoff loss in 2007, the team’s third in four years under Van Gundy, the Rockets elected to move on from JVG and hired Rick Adelman. Van Gundy was soon after hired to commentate basketball games. He hasn’t left the booth since.
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All in all, JVG is considered one of the better coaches in recent history. Even though he had an up-and-down finish to his career, JVG won nearly 60 percent of his games when he was the head coach of the New York Knicks (1995-02, seven seasons) and won 56 percent of his games with the Rockets (2003-07, four seasons).
JVG led his teams to the playoffs in nine of his 11 seasons as a head coach and made the conference finals twice (1998-00) and went to the NBA Finals once (1998-99). He is one of the most respected faces in basketball and would, no question, be a strong presence in any NBA locker room from the moment he would step into the organization.
NBA teams with head coaching openings have been interested in Van Gundy before, but he has yet to take the bait and take a job. Would the Rockets change that? Would the duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook be enough to entice JVG out of the broadcast booth?
Considering it would be somewhat of a homecoming for JVG in Houston, the Rockets are an interesting candidate. Houston is a team that is playoff-ready and with the right mix of coaching and role players could even emerge as a dark horse candidate to win the Western Conference next season, depending on the moves that are made during the offseason.
The Rockets’ current head coach, Mike D’Antoni, is on the final year of his deal and, before the NBA implemented its hiatus, it was looking more and more likely that the 2019-20 season was going to be his final one with the Rockets.
Houston will likely have a few “big-name” candidates in mind if they don’t bring back D’Antoni. Jeff Van Gundy will likely only be one option. Though, it would be a pretty good story to see him make his return to coaching with the Houston Rockets.