There’s a place for Rick Adelman in the NBA.
But it’s not in Houston anymore.
Hmmm, purple-and-gold anyone?
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Adelman will not continue as coach of the Rockets.
In four years on the job in Houston, Adelman had a record of 193-135 (.588) and had the highest winning percentage of any coach in franchise history. He also led the Rockets to a 22-game winning streak during the 2007-08 season — the second-longest streak in NBA history — and guided the team to its only playoff series victory in 14 years.
Adelman went to Houston to coach a veteran team led by Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. But due to injuries he had the All-Star combination on the court together for only 72 games.
Now Adelman is being made the scapegoat for failing to make the playoffs – despite winning records – two years in a row.
There’s a place for Adelman in the NBA. Maybe no better fit than drawing the Xs and Os of his player-friendly offense for the Lakers, where he’d be given pieces to win instead of constantly-changing minds. Kobe Bryant needs a veteran who’s been around the block.
Those on the inside of the Rockets have said that team is looking for the “next Gregg Popovich or Bill Belichick.”
Good luck on that count. Under general manager Daryl Morey since 2006, all the Rockets have built is a mountain of empty promises. Morey cannot be held responsible for the chronic injuries to the feet of Yao. But he did maintain faith in McGrady’s ability to carry the team in the playoffs, long before he was beset by injuries.
In Morey’s five years at the helm, the once-proud Rockets franchise has mostly jumped around in so many different directions like a confused bullfrog.
Morey traded the rights to Rudy Gay to Memphis for Shane Battier in 2006 and five years later sent Battier back to the Grizzlies for Hasheem Thabeet, the No. 2 overall draft bust of 2009. Morey drafted Nicolas Batum with the 25th pick in 2008, then traded him to Portland for Darrell Arthur and Joey Dorsey.
Under Morey, the Rockets traded for Ron Artest and let him walk after one season. Then they signed Trevor Ariza to a five-year contract and traded him to New Orleans after one season. Last offseason, the Rockets, in need of a defensive stopper in the middle of the lineup with Yao still on the mend, gave a three-year, $14-million contract to 35-year-old Brad Miller and then watched him play mostly ineffectively for 17 minutes a night in just 60 games.
Morey deserves credit for landing Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry and Courtney Lee via trades. But after positioning the Rockets with a stack of expiring contracts, the GM spent most of last summer and all of this season saying the team would be in the mix for a big-name star such as Carmelo Anthony, but came up empty.
In February, Morey shipped out Adelman’s best defender (Battier) and his second-best offensive producer (Aaron Brooks). Yet Adelman kept the Rockets’ starless young roster in the rugged Western Conference playoff race until the final days with a 17-8 record after the All-Star break. In the past two seasons, Adelman had 30 different players on his roster and kept the Rockets moving ahead.
Make no mistake about it: as No. 8 on the list of all-time wins (945), Adelman can still cut it in today’s NBA. Even though general consensus has Brian Shaw succeeding Phil Jackson, the Lakers would be foolish not to give Adelman a look. Nobody in the profession would make the offense as easy and satisfying to Bryant than Adelman.
If Adelman wants to continue coaching, he’ll be back in the league winning games somewhere next season.
Meanwhile, the Rockets’ front office will have moved on to someone else to blame.