Mike D’Antoni releases statement on decision to leave Rockets
D’Antoni said being the head coach of the Rockets was the “among the most memorable experiences” of his life, also thanking general manager Daryl Morey and owner Tilman Fertitta for the opportunity to coach in Houston.
Here’s the full statement:
Mike and Laurel D’Antoni statement to ESPN on departure from Rockets pic.twitter.com/XypyT8bgC0
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 13, 2020
D’Antoni spent four seasons with the Rockets, amassing a 217-101 record during the regular season and a 28-23 postseason record.
The Rockets emerged as legitimate contenders under D’Antoni’s watch, with James Harden cementing his status as one of the top players in the league.
D’Antoni’s emphasis on spacing allowed the Rockets to maximize Harden’s on-ball talents as a scorer and playmaker, with The Beard being named NBA MVP during the 2017-18 season. Houston very nearly had the opportunity to compete for a championship that same year.
The Rockets stampeded to 65 wins during the regular season and even took a 3-2 lead over the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. But Houston could not close the deal.
Chris Paul was injured at the tail end of a Game 5 victory. He would miss each of the next two games, with the Rockets bottoming out in Game 7 after shooting a woeful 7-for-44 from beyond the arc.
Houston had another chance to upend the Warriors last year, but the Rockets lost a late lead in Game 5 and were finished off in Game 6.
This past year offered more frustration, as Houston’s trade for Russell Westbrook and D’Antoni’s commitment to a unique small-ball look failed to pay dividends.
The Rockets failed to get the job done in the playoffs, but there is no question D’Antoni helped mold them into a top contender.
D’Antoni will remember his days in H-Town as he pursues the next opportunity.