The NBA offseason is like college move-in day. Plenty of people move on to greener pastures, separating themselves from an old roommate whose Animal House poster made it abundantly clear he likes to party.
Kids jumble through crowded hallways carrying a handful of belongings they probably don’t need. You awkwardly make eye contact with that one girl you had a short fling with last year and get reeled into a conversation with her parents that leads to discussing how the upcoming football season is finally our year.
For the Houston Rockets, Mike D’Antoni graduated and entered the workforce.
Longtime assistant Stephen Silas is taking his place, ascending to the front of the bench with a chance to prove himself.
Houston Rockets Head Coach Stephen Silas
Stephen Silas is the son of longtime NBA player and coach Paul Silas. The elder Silas won NBA championships as a player with the Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, and Seattle SuperSonics. He became the head coach of the San Diego Clippers immediately after his playing career.
Silas served on the coaching staffs of the New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns before landing another head coaching gig with the Charlotte Hornets.
The familial connection spurned Stephen’s interest in professional basketball, which he’s been around for a majority of his adult life.
The younger Silas graduated from Brown University with a degree in sociology and management. He worked as the assistant executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA) for three years before entering the coaching world in 1999.
He started as a scout and assistant coach under his father for the Charlotte Hornets, New Orleans Hornets, and Cleveland Cavaliers. Since, he’s had roles across the league with the Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors, Charlotte Bobcats, and Dallas Mavericks.
In addition to coaching under his father, Silas has worked with renowned coaches Don Nelson, Rick Carlisle, and Orlando Magic coach Steve Clifford.
Silas is most known for his development of perimeter players. He’s worked with LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kemba Walker, and Luka Doncic, to name a few.
The hire was praised within the Mavs organization.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski announced Houston’s hire of Silas on October 28. Other finalists for the coaching job included former NBA head coach and commentator Jeff Van Gundy — who coached in Houston from 2003-07 — and Rocket assistant John Lucas. Lucas will join Silas’ coaching staff.
Per the Rockets’ press release:
“This is an opportunity that was well-earned and long overdue for Coach Silas and we’re thrilled to have him as head coach,” said Rockets owner [Tilman Fertitta]. “Stephen is a basketball lifer who is highly regarded around the league. Our basketball operations leaders Rafael Stone and Eli Witus, along with Tad Brown and Patrick Fertitta, conducted an extensive search of many worthy candidates, but in the end we knew Stephen was the right person for the job. I know Stephen cannot wait to get to work and I hope Rockets fans are as excited as I am for the upcoming season.”Advertisement
The Rockets’ new head coach is tasked with reshaping the offense around James Harden and possibly Russell Westbrook — who was acquired in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2019, but recently said he wants out.
Silas wants to create more ball movement and options for the former MVPs to succeed in the playoffs.
In arguably the most bizarre year in NBA history due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Houston lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the Western Conference semifinals last season.
With Daryl Morey now President of Basketball Operations of the Philadelphia 76ers, Rafael Stone takes over as general manager. Morey was known for finagling deals in free agency and at the trade deadline, mortgaging NBA Draft picks to win now. While Morey was able to construct several transactions, he failed to woo big time free agents — such as Houston-native Jimmy Butler — to the Rockets.
Stone and Tillman still have all their chips in the center of the table next season. The goal is to win a championship, but the window is growing slimmer.
Silas is the perfect guy to go for it all and lead the franchise in a new direction when the time comes. His player development resume and offensive ingenuity separated him from the rest of the pack during the interview process.