Eleven games into a 4-7 Houston Rockets season that has sped past concerning and is careening toward disastrous, Alexander pulled the trigger and fired head coach Kevin McHale, as first reported by Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski. Assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff will be the interim head coach when the team takes on Portland tonight at Toyota Center.The performance of the Rockets this season has certainly been disappointing, especially coming off their success at the end of last season. Nevertheless, it's a bit unexpected to see the same guy who coached this team to that success last season get the axe so early this season.
The move comes as a surprise, insomuch as nobody could have foreseen this coming when the season began. However, it was evident from opening night that this team had major issues. They lost their first three games of the season, each by 20 points, before going on a four game winning streak. However, that string of wins was followed by four more losses, many of the same embarrassing variety as the first three losses of the season.
A 111-95 loss to Boston at home Monday night, a game the Rockets led midway through the third quarter, was the final straw. The Rockets' brass had seen enough. McHale had clearly lost his players and the confidence of the franchise, and he was done.
The team had plenty of excuses for its poor start — injuries, the integration of Ty Lawson, the close association with the Kardashians (ok, I made up that last one) — but it all boils down to this team's treatment of defense as optional instead of integral, and energy levels that fluctuate worse than those of a narcoleptic. In short, this team just doesn't appear to give a shit. At the very least, they didn't give a shit about McHale or they wouldn't have been habitually losing to lottery teams by double digits.
With that said: Les Alexander has owned the Rockets long enough to know that Houston is a fair-weather, front-runner sports town, and he probably understood that his franchise was hemorrhaging the interest and goodwill it created among local sports fans with its abysmal performance to start the 2015-16 season. Realizing that dwindling fan support equals dwindling revenues, Alexander decided to make a change at the top. Whether it makes a difference on the court remains to be seen - that discussion is for people who know more about basketball than I do - but at least Alexander can show local fans that he's being proactive, thereby holding their interest in his product.
No word as to when the Rockets will announce McHale's permanent replacements, but there are plenty of potential candidates.