Rock­ets de­cide it’s time to fire Van Gundy

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS -

If Jeff Van Gundy had de­cided sooner that he wanted to re­turn to the Hous­ton Rock­ets, he would still have a job. At least that’s what the team was say­ing Fri­day af­ter fir­ing him.

The Rock­ets’ Game 7 loss to Utah meant a first-round exit for the third time in Van Gundy’s four sea­sons, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that he would step down or be dis­missed by owner Les Alexan­der.

Van Gundy, 45, had one sea­son left on a nonguar­an­teed con­tract. When the sea­son ended, he said he needed time to ponder his fu­ture and while he did, the Rock­ets con­tacted at least one pos­si­ble re­place­ment.

Rock­ets Gen­eral Man­ager Daryl Morey said Van Gundy gave the team his bless­ing to seek other can­di­dates, in case he de­cided not to coach any­more. But Van Gundy said he told the Rock­ets all along that he wanted to come back as coach.

“You’re al­ways dis­ap­pointed when you’re fired. It’s dif­fi­cult,” Van Gundy said. “But I was a lit­tle bit more up­set when it was be­ing spun that I hadn’t come to a de­ci­sion about want­ing to coach. I had told them long ago that I wanted to coach if they wanted me.”

The Rock­ets re­port­edly have con­tacted Rick Adel­man, the for­mer coach of Port­land, Golden State and Sacra­mento.

Hous­ton went 182-146 un­der Van Gundy, in­clud­ing 52-30 this sea­son.

But the Rock­ets went 7-12 in three post­sea­son ap­pear­ances and more was ex­pected from teams an­chored by All-Stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.

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