Phil Knight makes a move on Houston
Oregon's pursuit of Rockets coach Rick Adelman exposing Yao doubts?
All of the Houston Rockets' hopes for the future center on the idea that Yao Ming will return as a healthy All-Star. Rockets coach Rick Adelman might not be so sure of that though.
The Sacramento Press is reporting that Adelman has emerged as a leading candidate for the University of Oregon's coaching job. Oregon is determined (and somewhat desperate) to hire a big name and its using all of its Nike money to try and do that. Nike chairman Phil Knight is a Duck alum (he donated $100 million to the school in 2009 alone) and he's already used his immense wallet power to offer Michigan State coach Tom Izzo the largest coaching contract in college basketball history. (Izzo has turned it down so far.)
Now, with Adelman on Knight's radar, there is little chance that the Rockets could better Oregon's offer if Knight goes all in.
Adelman leaving for a college job would reverberate beyond mere financial realities though. It would send out an unmistakable message that the Rockets coach has his doubts about Yao being able to return from his latest devastating injury. With a healthy Yao (always the ultimate IF in basketball), many NBA observers expect the Rockets to be a challenger to the elite teams in the league next season.
The inside-outside combination of Yao and Kevin Martin (who the Rockets acquired in a trade this season) brings particular optimism.
But now the coach who guided a Yao-less team to a surprising winning record this season is flirting with Ducks.