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Friday, July 10, 2020

Jeff Van Gundy reportedly a candidate for Rockets job if Mike D’Antoni is fired

Jeff Van Gundy

Mike D’Antoni’s job with the Houston Rockets seems to be in jeopardy, and Jeff Van Gundy could be an eventual replacement.

The Athletic’s Sam Amick joined Kelly Iko‘s “Brodie and The Beard” podcast on Tuesday and shared that he believes D’Antoni will not be back unless the Rockets win a championship.

“As I reported a couple months ago, barring a championship, if they do save the season, I do not get the sense that Mike D’Antoni is going to be back,” Amick said. “They’ve had a major divide in the contract negotiations. The information that we’ve constantly heard is that that bridge for the most part has been burned, and now they’re just kind of mutually agreeing to make the best of the time they have together.”

The reports about D’Antoni’s job status are not too surprising. The coach’s agent was critical of the team last year over a contract extension offer, so there was some tension there.

Amick also shared his thoughts on Van Gundy possibly getting the job.

“Jeff Van Gundy is the one that I had heard consistently as a very possible replacement for Mike. It’s interesting to see Thibs’ name in there now. Because you have a guy who was Jeff’s top assistant when Jeff was the Rockets coach. … Van Gundy and Thibs being from the same tree, whatever happens next, I think you’re starting to get a sense of what might be prioritized. Obviously defense first, discipline.”

“Thibs” refers to Tom Thibodeau, the former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach who reportedly is receiving interest from the Nets in addition to the Rockets.

Van Gundy is currently serving as an analyst for ESPN. The 58-year-old coached the Knicks for seven seasons and then the Rockets for four. He hasn’t coached in the NBA since his gig with the Rockets ended in 2007, but that was under a different ownership group in Houston. Van Gundy and Thibodeau both reportedly are also on the Knicks’ list.

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