May 21, 2011, 4:59 PM EDT
Honestly, after his last stint as general manager than coach in Minnesota, I didn’t think we’d ever see Kevin McHale walking the NBA sidelines as a coach again.
But he has interviewed everywhere this spring (recently with the Warriors) and was one of the three finalists for the Houston Rockets job. Now he is more than that, according to a Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.
No final decision has officially been reached, nor are contract negotiations underway, but McHale has clearly separated himself from Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey and Boston Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, sources said. McHale made a strong final impression in conversations with Houston officials on Thursday in Chicago, and could receive a formal offer in the next week.
Rockets GM Daryl Morey is a smart man, but I just don’t see the fit. McHale is a career 39-55 coach who was 20-43 after being pushed from general manger to coach with the Timberwolves back in 2009. To be fair, he was not as bad a coach as some will paint him as — they team played better for him than it did Randy Whitman before him, and he had Al Jefferson playing well until Jefferson blew out his knee.
But it wasn’t special or impressive. Not a great connection with the players by all accounts, the Xs and Os were not earth shattering. Basically, with good talent he could win plenty of games, but I didn’t see a dramatic improvement with those Wolves (the way you did this past season when Frank Vogel stepped in midseason for the Pacers).
If you were trying to mold a future big man and star, maybe McHale makes more sense. But the Rockets are not that team right now. They were talking about building for the long term with a coach the players would identify with. Is that McHale? I can see him being fantastic in interviews, he has a great personality, but is he a better coach for a young team than Dwane Casey or even someone like Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer?
Whether it’s the Rockets or someone else, it looks like McHale is going to get another shot at being an NBA head coach next season. Whenever that starts.