McHale takes the fall in Houston

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Just months removed from a trip to the Western Conference finals, Kevin McHale is out in Houston and J.B. Bickerstaff is in as his replacement after the Rockets’ wobbly 4-7 start to this season. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was the first to report the news of McHale’s firing.

McHale compiled a 193-130 record in four-plus seasons in Houston and signed a three-year extension in December of 2104. But losing streaks of three and four games, longer than anything they endured last season, prompted a players-only team meeting before practice Tuesday.

If James Harden, Dwight Howard and the rest of the players couldn’t come up with a solution for what ails this crew, the Rockets’ front office did it for them. And McHale serves as the fall guy.

Bickerstaff, a longtime assistant and the son of veteran NBA coach and executive Bernie Bickerstaff, certainly provides a new voice, albeit from a familiar face. He is well respected around the league and was destined for a head coaching job that doesn’t include an interim tag.

The Rockets, however, clearly are in need of much more than just a different voice.

They’ve fallen apart since grinding their way to the conference finals. They rank near the bottom of the league in defensive rating (29th), points allowed (29th) and opponent field goal percentage (26th). They have yet to hold a single opponent under 100 points this season.

The addition of veteran point guard Ty Lawson has not produced any tangible benefits either. Plus, the team that led the league in made 3-pointers last season ranks next to last in 3-point percentage this season (29 percent).

The fact is, Howard has been a shell of himself and is not the impact player on defense that he has been throughout his career. Harden’s struggling as well, not playing anything like the player many (including his peers) felt deserved Kia MVP honors last season.

Something had to change. Better yet, someone had to go.

But McHale, the winningest coach in franchise history by percentage, and after just 11 games?

There has to be more to this story, more to come from GM Daryl Morey and the Houston brain trust.

For now, it’s up to Bickerstaff to steady things and reshape this team into the outfit that was expected to contend in the Western Conference this season.


  1. Jaime says:


    People on this site are afraid to say it, SO I will.

    The problem with James Harden is a woman, who’s last name starts with a [ K ]. At this moment he is thinking more about HER THEN THE GAME OF BASKETBALL.

  2. Ty Lawson and Patrick Beverly are bums. Kevin McHale is better off without that team.

  3. chicagofan says:

    Hollins is probably next coach to go. Brooklyn looks worse than Houston and they are playing(not playing) like they want Lionel Hollins to lose his job– just like McHale.

  4. chicagofan says:

    watched them against Celtics and they were terrible. Up by 15 in 2nd quarter and down by 29 early in 4th quarter, I have always disliked Howard and he was invisible in the Celtics game on both ends of the court. Yes, a coach should be fired when he is no longer able to reach his players but the players have to at least be trying and this team quit on McHAle-he should have benched Howard and Harden.

  5. Daniel says:

    …worst executive choice ever. IF you fire Kevin because of player performance, who are you going to put in his place to fix the problem?…Harden?

  6. prahumac says:

    so we are coming now to beat you down and dust THE MIGHTY SPURS go spurs go@@@@

  7. Nick says:

    McHale is the fall guy. I guess his “old school approach” is too tough on today’s players. That says all one needs to know. They may be more athletic than in Kevin’s day, but they are a whole lot softer otherwise! Houston should have gotten rid of Howard instead. It was a mistake to trade for him. He is not championship material and bickers on court with his teammates – even when he is at fault.

    That’s the way it goes in the NBA. The players often get most of the credit when things are going well, but when the players play badly the coaches take the fall.

  8. tl says:

    mchale is not a great coach, but firing him isn’t going to fix rockets’ issue..

    if you look at all the champs in the recent decades, EVERY team’s francize player shows a great defensive effort.

    This includes Lebron, Kobe, Shaq, Duncan, Piston’s starting 5, Jordan, Pippen, isaiah thomas, Magic, you name it. Even Bird/Dirk, while not considered to be lock down defensive players, they are not defensive liabilities like harden is. The thing is, if your lead player doesn’t show an effort, everyone will follow that sort of effort.

  9. james says:

    this is sad. I mean Mchale just took them to the conference finals and they lost to the GS (curry). they actually achieve all the could last year and this is what he gets for that.I’m really tired of this nonsense. But when a player dares to change team, everybody gets upset (howard, Lebron and so on). jsut look at mark jackson an GS, kevin McHale and houston, george Karl and denver. No loyalty in this game…..

  10. Michael says:

    Kevin McHale is the ‘fall guy’ as the Rockets stars stumble. Come back to Boston to join the Celtics staff. We love you Kevin.

  11. bb6600 says:

    Thibodeau coaching the Rockets – now that would be a sight!
    He’d probably lose his voice for good screaming at Harden’s defense.

  12. Missing AI says:

    Where Howard goes, problems follow. Maybe if he gets injured again Rockets can get back on track.

  13. Palmer says:

    Bring back Rudy T!!!!

  14. AnNBAFan says:

    Sad, I really had the feeling they were starting to get an identity.
    Maybe has something to do with the addition of Lawson who has been underperforming.
    Either way, horrible time to change coach

  15. Qiang Xu says:

    From only professional standard point, this coach should have been fired long time ago. He has shown many apparent mistakes in calling the floor. But Houston’s problem won’t be ending there and they have more to deal with.

  16. Whaaaaa? says:

    DANG 2104. So they time-traveled to December of 2104 and signed him to an extension? Will the future change because of this?

  17. Kavin McHale deserved better says:

    He can thank James Harden and his defense for that:

    It is jsut unbelievable to watch the Rocktes and Harden, they act like they have won 5 championships in a row and think very highly of themselves. On the other hand the Warriors had a fantastic season, but what do they do? Well, they get even better.
    Thats the difference between real champs and the Rockets, between a real MVP and James Harden.
    Sorry Kevin, it wasnt your fault!

  18. ascentcg says:

    I’ve been disappointed by the Rockets before in the past, but the way the team has completely unraveled this year is simply unbelievable. It’s not even Howard who is a shell of himself, but the entire team at this point. No further comment…

  19. johnny ringo says:

    Idiots, yeah of course its Mchale s fault that his star players are underaceiveing !