Free agent Mike D’Antoni favors Rockets return; James Harden hopes the coach will stay too

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Coach Mike D’Antoni, a free agent now that the Houston Rockets are out of the NBA playoffs, said his preference would be to stay with the organization.It is also the hope of James Harden, the face of the franchise.

” Of course. Of course, ”said Harden after the Rockets’ 119-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals Saturday night in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. “Mike has done amazing things here. ”

The Rockets went 217-101 during D’Antoni’s four seasons in Houston, plus 28-23 in the playoffs, exceeding the first round of each season and Game 7 of the Western Finals in 2017-18.

D’Antoni, 69, has spent this season in the final year of his contract after extension talks ended twice in the last offseason in an unusually public way. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and D’Antoni’s longtime agent Warren LeGarie have publicly accused each other of not reaching an agreement on an extension.

However, D’Antoni expressed his gratitude for organizing the Rockets on Saturday night, when he reiterated his intention to continue coaching, whether in Houston or elsewhere.

“We have a great organization, a great city, great fans, a great team,” said D’Antoni. “I mean, everything is fine here. We’ll see what happens, but I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I was four years old. I hope it continues, but you never know. But all is well on this side, for sure.

” It was fun. It’s always fun. You always hate to lose. It’s always a little bittersweet, but I couldn’t ask for better people to work with and better players to work with. A lot of things stand out, a lot of little things, but I had a good four years for sure. ”

D’Antoni is considered one of the top contenders for the Indiana Pacers’ coaching search, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported. Sources have told ESPN that at least one other team with a vacant coaching position has a strong interest in D’Antoni.

D’Antoni, who has a career record of 672-527, is widely credited with revolutionizing the NBA offensive. His Phoenix Suns teams of “Seven Seconds or Less” broke conventional norms by pushing the tempo and shooting more than 3 points than any team had so far, a style of play that has been adopted. throughout the league a decade and a half later. The Rockets have taken extremes even further, setting records for attempted 3s in each of D’Antoni’s first three years and relinquishing traditional center position this season.

D’Antoni, whose Phoenix teams thrived with Steve Nash as a pick-and-roll maestro, adapted his offensive system to play Harden’s forces as a historically elite isolation player in Houston. Harden, whose move to point guard was D’Antoni’s first major decision with the Rockets, thrived in their four seasons together, winning an assists title, three milestone titles and an MVP award.

“The experience was great – I mostly moved to the playmaker, the ball manager and just came up with different schemes and fundamentally changed the game,” said Harden, who had 30 points and five assists. in the defeat of the fifth game. “It was an incredible experience. A difficult season for us. Obviously, it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We just have to figure it out. ”

D’Antoni said he hasn’t given much thought to his potential options if he doesn’t return to the Rockets.

“First, I’m going to go back to my room right away to have a little pity party,” D’Antoni said. “Then after that, we’ll find out. Right now it’s still stinging enough that I don’t think about anything other than that for a little while. “

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