Tuesday, May 22, 2007

2007-08 Rockets = 2003-04 Pistons?

I'm still kind of shocked that Jeff Van Gundy got fired. Am I alone on this?

The guy took a team with just a handful of good players, no team speed, no power forward, no health, and that played in a brutal conference and got them 50 wins. Yes, they lost in the playoffs, but the Jazz went out in the second round and proved they were no slouch.

I'm sorry, but that is a rough draw.

And the whole thing really reminds of when Joe Dumars and the Pistons gave Rick Carlisle the axe, despite the fact that he lead Detroit to the conference finals in 2003. Then, like now, it was a matter of preference more than performance. The Pistons saw Larry Brown available, thought he was the guy to make all their dreams come true, and then promptly won the NBA title. Of course, that was due in large part to the acquisition of Rasheed Wallace.

Van Gundy and Carlisle are actually pretty similar, with the exception of follicular endowment and previous coaching experience, given their "young genius" starts and defensive mindsets. But their commonalities aren't really the interesting thing here. I'm more interested in what will happen to the Rockets.

Is it possible that Houston could let a Coach of the Year candidate go and then vault to a title? To do so, they will need to bring in a playmaker on the perimeter and a more athletic power forward, but if the Pistons can serve as a proxy, merely changing coaches might help.

In fact, it is the guy Houston is changing to that gives me a weird sense of confidence. I say "weird" because Rick Adelman has never struck me as a real "get us over the top" kind of coach. But nobody really saw Larry Brown as that kind of guy either. Remember, that was Brown's first (and only) title. Like Brown, Adelman was a tough-minded guard as a player, always seems to improve the teams he coaches, and employs a system that he has confidence in.

More than anything, Adelman gives Houston a new look. It seems ownership wanted him so that he would speed up the pace, but it also seems possible that he can discover new tricks for old dogs. For some reason, I have a good feeling about this.

It probably wasn't fair to Van Gundy (actually I know it wasn't fair to Van Gundy), just like it wasn't fair to Carlisle when the Pistons ran him off, but considering how well this worked for Detroit four years ago, the Rockets almost had to make this move.

Now all Houston needs to do is acquire a star power forward at the trade deadline next season.

1 comment:

howlingfantods said...

Tough call, in my opinion. On the one hand, JVG did a fantastic job getting Houston to their record with all the injuries. I personally would've picked him as the COY.

But on the other hand, I couldn't help but feel like he wasn't really using Yao the right way, that he was killing both Yao and Tmac with all the responsibilities he was giving them on both sides of the ball.

And any chance to get Adelman should be seized by any team, I think, one of the best coaches around. He gets more out of players than any coach I've ever seen. Yeah the Rockets have a very thin bench and weak rotation players, but I bet those same players look significantly better after a couple of years with Adelman. We might even stop cringing when we see Head and Skip to My Lou together in the backcourt.