D'Antoni wants to coach for at least three more seasons
NBA.com Global on May 21, 2019 07:29 AM
FILE - HOUSTON, TX - MAY 8: James Harden #13 and Mike D'Antoni of the Houston Rockets shale hands after the game against the Utah Jazz in Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on May 8, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
NBA.com staff report
Coach Mike D'Antoni has led the Houston Rockets through one of their most successful eras as a legitimate NBA title contender. As he enters the final year of his contract, D'Antoni isn't looking to step back from coaching anytime soon.
Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, D'Antoni and the Rockets' front office have had preliminary talks about a contract extension that would keep D'Antoni from entering the final year of his deal. D'Antoni said he told both Houston's owner Tillman Fertitta and its general manager Daryl Morey that he intends to keep coaching the team for at least three more seasons, per Wojnarowski.
"I've let Daryl and Tilman know that I'm energized to keep coaching -- and believe that I can continue to do this at a high level for at least another three years," the 68-year-old D'Antoni told ESPN on Sunday night (Monday, PHL time). "I want to be a part of a championship here."
D'Antoni told ESPN that he prefers entering the final year of his four-year contract this season without an extension. However, Wojnarowski reports it is unclear how significant of a commitment Houston is willing to make to D'Antoni. The Rockets reportedly parted ways with assistant coach Jeff Bzdelik over the weekend and Wojnarowski reports more changes could be made to D'Antoni's staff.
In an interview with the Houston Chronicle last week, Fertitta backed D'Antoni and said he planned to meet with the Rockets' coach in the coming weeks to discuss his future with the team.
"Mike will be the coach next year,” Fertitta told the newspaper. “He’s not a lame duck to me. That’s just a media term. That’s just a media buzzword.
"Mike is going to be 69 years old (next May) and Mike doesn’t know totally what he wants to do, yet. We’ll sit down with Mike in the next few weeks and talk with him. We’re more concerned with making our team better next year. Mike will be here. I like Mike. I think he’s a very good coach. Players like playing for him. I keep being told, free agents want to know who the owner is and they want to know who the coach is. Mike and I do well together. Hopefully, we’ll continue to win and Mike will be here for a long time.”
Since 2016-17, which was D'Antoni's first season as coach, the Rockets have won no fewer than 53 games and set a franchise record for wins in a season in 2017-18 when they finished 65-17. Houston lost in the Western Conference semifinals to rival Golden State, marking the second straight postseason in which the Rockets were eliminated by the Warriors in the playoffs.