Mike D’Antoni appears to be trying to one-up his old Phoenix Suns teams.
Speaking with the media on Friday, the Houston Rockets head coach discussed the kind of pace he wants his offense to have with Russell Westbrook aboard.
“Six seconds or less, baby,” said D’Antoni, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “We’re working on it.
MacMahon also noted that the Rockets had 27 fastbreak points in their season opener against Milwaukee, matching their most in any game last year. While Houston did lose by the final of 117-111, they played at a pace factor of 111.5, well over their mark last season of 100.4 (per ESPN).
Of course, D’Antoni revolutionized modern conceptions of NBA offense with his famous “Seven Seconds or Less” style with Steve Nash and the Suns in the 2000s, the point being to get a shot off within seven seconds of the shot clock. He did previously say that his offense wouldn’t change much with Westbrook, but some stylistic tweaks here and there could help the Rockets reach their full potential with the Brodie in tow.
The Houston Rockets may have to make some changes now that Russell Westbrook will be sharing the floor with James Harden next season, but head coach Mike D’Antoni insists any adjustments will be minor.
D’Antoni discussed the acquisition of Westbrook in an appearance on “The Woj Pod” this week, and he said there will be no need to change Houston’s offense much with Westbrook. He noted how the Rockets had the second-best offense in the NBA behind the Golden State Warriors last season.
Houston’s Mike D’Antoni on The Woj Pod pic.twitter.com/xVFySpS1aB
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 16, 2019
“We’re not changing much,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll tweak it, but to say you’ve gotta change and you can’t win that way, that’s BS.”
D’Antoni was referring to critics who say the Rockets play too much isolation ball, whereas teams like the Warriors spread it around more and never have one player dominating that side of the ball. Some think it could be even more challenging to play that style now with how ball-dominant both Harden and Westbrook are, but D’Antoni is not concerned.
“Do we sometimes go too much 1-on-1? Yeah,” the coach admitted. “Do we sometimes iso or not move enough? Yeah, we do sometimes. But I can also make the argument that sometimes teams over-pass. Sometimes they move too much or are too helter-skelter. You try to find the balance of what is best for your players.”
Westbrook and Harden obviously aren’t concerned about sharing the ball, as they may have been the ones who facilitated the trade that sent Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Russ.
D’Antoni has been even more passionate in defending his offensive approach in the past, and we don’t expect that to change. From a pure talent standpoint, the Rockets should be much better off with Westbrook than Paul. As we know, there is often more to the story than that.
After a rather public breakdown in talks, the Houston Rockets and coach Mike D’Antoni are reportedly trying to make a new contract happen once again.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, D’Antoni and the Rockets are progressing toward an agreement after owner Tilman Fertitta dropped the buyout language that D’Antoni balked at during the initial negotiation process.
Sources: The Rockets have rekindled extension discussions with coach Mike D'Antoni and are nearing an agreement. Houston owner Tilman Fertitta has removed the buyout language that was the sticking point when talks previously broke down.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) June 8, 2019
It was that buyout language that had D’Antoni’s agent crying foul in public. The Rockets realized that nothing was going to get done with it in the picture, and they’ve gotten rid of it. Now they look set to retain their coach, who had been poised to enter the final year of his deal with the franchise.
Mike D’Antoni broke off contract extension talks with the Houston Rockets last week, and there have been rumblings that the team insulted him with an offer that was low in base salary and rich in incentives. While that is partly true, general manager Daryl Morey says there has been some misinformation about the offer floating around.
The Rockets said last Thursday that D’Antoni turned down an offer that would have paid him $5 million per year. D’Antoni’s agent later claimed that is inaccurate, as the terms of the deal stated that D’Antoni would only be paid $2.5 million for the 2020-21 season if the Rockets failed to make the playoffs or he was fired before the end of the year. According to Morey, that was never the case.
Morey told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle on Monday that the only way D’Antoni would have made $2.5 million for the 2020-21 season is if he did not coach the Rockets at all. D’Antoni is still under contract through next season, so Morey says Houston’s offer to him stated that he would get $2.5 million — not $5 million — if the team decided to fire him or he resigned before the 2020-21 season. As long as he was the coach to start the year, he would have been paid the full $5 million.
The offer still included incentives, as the deal stated D’Antoni would have been paid $5 million in base salary and an additional $1 million for each playoff series won beyond the first round. As it stands now, D’Antoni is scheduled to make $4.5 million next season.
Whatever the case, you can understand why D’Antoni might feel like he has been around long enough and has enough wins under his belt that his contract should not include incentives. The highest-paid coaches in the NBA make somewhere in the $7 million range annually, and D’Antoni is probably looking for similar compensation. While it does not sound like he is as good as gone following next year, there are clearly some issues to iron out on both sides.
It’s becoming quite clear why contract negotiations between the Houston Rockets and coach Mike D’Antoni broke down.
The Rockets claimed on Thursday that D’Antoni had turned down an offer for $5 million a year, but the coach’s agent, Warren LeGarie, stated that the true value of the offer was significantly less than that.
“I’d like clear up some inaccuracies that were stated about the offer made to Mike,” LeGarie said, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “The reported $5 million is really $2.5 million because it comes with contingencies. One, it’s only $5 million if he makes the playoffs and two, if he is coaching the team at the end of the year.
“If they decide to fire Mike in the proverbial change of direction he gets $2.5 million. If there is an injury or a change in the roster construction, of which Mike has no control, he nonetheless would become a victim of it.”
LeGarie added that, while there is a $1 million bonus for each round of the playoffs Houston would reach, it does not kick in until the second round. Rockets GM Daryl Morey confirmed that this description of the offer was correct.
Even at $5 million, that salary is lower than the going rate for other veteran coaches. A $2.5 million base salary would be laughably low for a coach of D’Antoni’s caliber, and it explains why nothing got done, as the two sides are clearly very far apart. Yes, the Rockets will probably make the playoffs, but the coach can hardly be blamed for wanting more guaranteed money and security. The two sides will try again after next season, which is to be D’Antoni’s last under his current deal.
The Houston Rockets were unable to come to an agreement with head coach Mike D’Antoni on a contract extension, but that does not mean they expect the 2019-20 season to be his final one with the franchise.
Shortly after news surfaced that D’Antoni has broken off negotiations with the Rockets, team owner Tilman Fertitta and general manager Daryl Morey spoke with reporters about the situation. Morey said neither he nor D’Antoni are worried about the contract, and he expressed confidence an extension will be worked out following next season.
— Randy McIlvoy (@KPRC2RandyMc) May 30, 2019
“For me, it’s fine. I know Coach D’Antoni is fine,” Morey said. “He would have preferred to work something out, but we didn’t. We’ll work something out after the next season.”
Fertitta’s comments were a bit more interesting, as they showed the contrast between how an owner thinks and how a GM thinks. He scoffed at the notion that D’Antoni is a lame duck and said the coach’s agent actually “did me a favor” in case things don’t work out with D’Antoni.
“I don’t know what lame duck means, because he’s under contract,” Fertitta said. “I think his agent did me a favor, OK? Because if for some reason we had a horrible year and felt we needed to make a coaching change, we just got through paying off one of the other coaches. I hope we win a championship and Mike comes and puts a gun to my head.”
Fertitta was referring to Kevin McHale, whom the Rockets fired in 2015 not long after they signed him to a multi-year extension. From a business perspective, Fertitta would obviously prefer to avoid another situation like that.
The contract D’Antoni turned down from the Rockets would have paid him a base salary of $5 million per year with incentives for winning in the postseason.
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said D'Antoni was offered a $5 million one-year extension with an additional $1 million per round he won. The base salary is a slight raise, but under the current market of recent veteran coaches (Stotts, Casey, etc.)
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) May 30, 2019
This could be a very interesting offseason in Houston, as they are also reportedly open to shopping just about any player on their roster in trade talks. There was some talk of tension between superstars when the season ended, but D’Antoni downplayed that. Next season could be shaping up to be a make-or-break year for the Rockets.
Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni may be planning to only coach one more season with the team.
D’Antoni is entering the final year of his contract next season, and it was believed that he and the Rockets were on the verge of working out a long-term extension. However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday that D’Antoni has broken off negotiations with the team and plans to coach out the final year of his deal in 2019-20.
Houston Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has ended talks with management on a contract extension, league sources tell ESPN. D’Antoni plans to complete the final season of his deal in 2019-20. Story soon on ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 30, 2019
It’s unclear if the breakdown in negotiations has to do with the contract itself or D’Antoni simply not wanting to coach beyond next season, but it adds another element of uncertainty to Houston’s offseason.
Wojnarowski reported earlier in the week that the Rockets are not making any player off-limits in trade talks, and they have apparently already been shopping at least one key player. The Rockets were unable to get past the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals despite Kevin Durant leaving Game 5 with an injury. D’Antoni downplayed talk of tension between his two star players after the series, but the Rockets’ offseason will be one to keep an eye on.