Beyond the Boxscore
Rockets make the right call in booting selfish Rick Adelman: Time for a newcoach
Rick Adelman is gone — and not a moment too soon for the good of the Houston Rockets' franchise.
Yes, Adelman was forced out of Houston. Pay no attention to any "mutual decision" spin attempts. Rockets owner Leslie Alexander made it pretty clear in early March that he isn't nearly as enamored with the job that Adelman did with his franchise as so many in the media seem to be. Once Alexander started to point out how Adelman really still lives in Sacramento, this was a dead coach diagramming.
It was only a matter of time before general manager Daryl Morey got onboard with jettisoning the coach and that day came Monday. As FOX 26 Sports reported first, Adelman was informed in a Monday meeting that he would not be offered a new contract from the Rockets.
Since Adelman's contract expired, he technically wasn't fired. But that's just semantics. It's a way for a guy with 945 career NBA wins to save face.
Alexander and Morey decided that Adelman wasn't the right fit for the Rockets and they're exactly right. In fact, what promises to be received as one of the more controversial moves of Morey's reign is actually one of the most clear-cut, no brainers.
You can — and should — debate the fact that Morey made a public-relations-drive (as opposed to one with a real shot) to sign Chris Bosh this offseason when he should have been making an all-out push at Amar'e Stoudemire. (If you don't think that the Rockets would be in the playoffs today if Stoudemire was on the roster, you need to watch more basketball).
You can't debate that Adelman needed to go. Not if you have any grasp of what Morey is trying to do with the roster.
Adelman showed why he can't coach this team anymore in the last two games of the season. With the always-fanciful playoff drive officially ended and the roster reduced by injuries, Adelman still could not find it in himself to play Hasheem Thabeet a single minute. Not one minute in two completely meaningless games.
It's easy to argue that Thabeet will never be more than a 7-foot-3 bench bum. But you at least have to find out for sure. If you're the Rockets, if you make the trade to get Thabeet, you need a coach who's willing to take the gamble with you. Adelman's not that coach.
He selfishly went after wins for his own record in those last two games. Adelman went as far as playing only seven guys in an overtime loss to Dallas rather than giving Thabeet, or anyone else, time.
Sorry but playing Chase Budinger a ton of minutes after Morey traded away Shane Battier and gave you no other choice doesn't mean you're good with young players. The Rockets are a franchise that needs to develop players. Even if it's just to create more trade chips.
Adelman never seemed to understand this. Morey and Alexander will find a young, largely unproven (though he'll have some NBA experience) coach who does.
Houston fans should be happy that all the outside praise Adelman received for producing winning records the last two years — and never coming close to making the playoffs either season — means nothing to Alexander. Ditto for urging of the players who pleaded for an Adelman return (the coach made it comfortable for several guys who are not good enough to be starting when the Rockets get good again, assuming that ever happens).
Alexander is the only Houston sports owner who demands more, the only owner who doesn't reward the mediocre.
Adelman doesn't have any more to give. Unembarrassing, non-playoff seasons would have been his ceiling in Houston from now on.
That 22-game winning streak was several sports lifetimes ago. The NBA moves quickly. The Memphis Grizzlies managed to get into the Western Conference playoffs this season — and could upset the overrated San Antonio Spurs — with one very borderline star (that's Zach Randolph not Rudy Gay) and one post player (Marc Gasol) who's arguably not that much better than the Rockets' Luis Scola.
Adelman didn't actually produce any miracles in 2010-11.
A byproduct of this move is the pressure it puts on Morey too. Alexander surely took that into consideration. The GM genius is very much on the clock now too. It will be up to Morey to discover the next Tom Thibodeau, to find a difference maker rather than a caretaker on the sidelines.
Morey only has so many moves left before Alexander decides to move on to a new general manager as well. Alexander's made it clear that he will not celebrate all right — no matter how many people try to convince him he should.
The Rockets are instantly better because of that message.