Stephen Silas will be the next head coach of the Houston Rockets, the team announced on Friday. Silas has been an assistant in the NBA since 2000, working for seven different teams. Most recently, he joined Rick Carlisle's staff with the Dallas Mavericks in 2018. Silas is the son of former NBA head coach Paul Silas, and worked under him in Cleveland during the first two years of LeBron James' career.
In a press release, the Rockets wrote:
"This is an opportunity that was well-earned and long overdue for Coach Silas and we're thrilled to have him as head coach," said Rockets owner Tilman J. Fertitta. "Stephen is a basketball lifer who is highly regarded around the league. Our basketball operations leaders Rafael Stone and Eli Witus, along with Tad Brown and Patrick Fertitta, conducted an extensive search of many worthy candidates, but in the end we knew Stephen was the right person for the job. I know Stephen cannot wait to get to work and I hope Rockets fans are as excited as I am for the upcoming season."
The Rockets interviewed a number of other candidates to replace Mike D'Antoni, and ultimately settled on three finalists: Silas, former Rockets coach and ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy and current Houston assistant John Lucas II. The Rockets were sold on Silas' offensive creativity, according to Wojnarowski. He has worked with Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry and Kemba Walker. In Houston, he'll be tasked with designing an offense for James Harden and Russell Westbrook that is versatile enough to overcome the somewhat extreme defenses tend to throw at them.
One extreme example came in the second round of the postseason. The Lakers threw trap after trap at Harden in an effort to force his teammates to beat them. They couldn't, and the Rockets were humiliated in a five-game walkover. D'Antoni enabled Harden's isolation habits to a historic degree. If the Rockets are going to compete for a championship next season, they need to diversify offensively.
But hanging over them is a future that looks increasingly bleak. Harden and Westbrook are both in their 30s, and the deal that brought Westbrook to Houston cost the Rockets control of four of their first-round picks. Daryl Morey might have been able to navigate them through that minefield, but he is now running the Philadelphia 76ers. If things go south in Houston without him, a rebuild could eventually become inevitable.
In all likelihood, that factored into Houston's calculus in hiring Silas. Lucas is 66 years old, and Van Gundy is 58. Silas, still in his mid-40s, has a long coaching career ahead of him and could potentially ride out the lean years in ways older coaches might not be willing to.
The goal for now, though, is to remain competitive. Owner Tilman Fertitta has said on the record that he wants to win this season. Limited draft capital and financial flexibility will make improving upon last season's roster difficult, though. In all likelihood, any improvement was going to have to come through superior coaching. On that front, the Rockets are betting on one of the most accomplished assistants in basketball to do what D'Antoni could not: Lead Harden to a championship.