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Jeff Van Gundy loses out on Rockets coaching job to Stephen Silas

It doesn’t appear Jeff Van Gundy will be returning to the NBA sidelines next season.

Van Gundy was considered a finalist for the Rockets opening to replace Mike D’Antoni. Instead, that coveted job will go to Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas. The former Knicks coach has been a lead NBA analyst for ESPN since his last coaching job — also with Houston — in 2007. Jeff’s brother, Stan, was named the coach of the Pelicans last week.

The Thunder are the only team still looking for a head coach now and Van Gundy has not been linked to that opening.

The Rockets’ hiring of Silas — the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas — completes a significant change in the leadership of the team with the league’s longest active playoff streak after Daryl Morey decided not to return as general manager following D’Antoni’s departure. Morey is near an agreement to become the new president of the 76ers.

The new combination of coach and general manager comes after eight straight trips to the playoffs for the Rockets, all since acquiring James Harden in an offseason trade with Oklahoma City in 2012.

Morey was the architect of those rosters, and D’Antoni led the Rockets to a franchise-record 65 wins in 2017-18 before a Game 7 loss to Golden State in the Western Conference finals. The Warriors swept Cleveland to win the title.

Houston recorded 50-win seasons in each of D’Antoni’s first three years and had a shot at another when the pandemic shut down the regular season last March.

Stephen Silas will be the next coach of the Rockets.
Stephen SilasGetty Images

The Rockets beat Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoff bubble in Florida this year before losing to the champion Los Angeles Lakers in five games, the third second-round exit in D’Antoni’s four seasons. The former Phoenix coach decided not to return when his contract expired.

The 46-year-old Silas is the first significant hire for Rafael Stone, who was promoted to GM from vice president of basketball operations when Morey stepped down. Morey is close to becoming president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, the AP has reported, citing people with direct knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Silas inherits a team led by a pair of former MVPs in Harden and Russell Westbrook. The longtime NBA assistant has worked worked with elite guards before, most recently in two seasons with the Mavericks and 21-year-old sensation Luka Doncic.

The nine seasons as a Charlotte assistant for Silas included time with Kemba Walker, and he was with Golden State when the Warriors drafted Stephen Curry in 2009.

Silas started his coaching career on his father’s staff with the Charlotte Hornets in 2000. Paul Silas spent 16 years as a player in the NBA and another 22 as a coach.

— With AP

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