Mike D’Antoni is officially a coaching free agent now, and these five teams should be calling him immediately.
After being eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers, there are now the annual questions about the Houston Rockets. Chief among them was the future of head coach Mike D’Antoni, who was without a contract for next season.
After the Game 1 win over the Lakers, general manager Daryl Morey said the team wanted to retain D’Antoni. But on Sunday the veteran coach said he would not be returning to the Rockets.
“It’s with tremendous sadness and gratitude that my wife Laurel and I announce that our incredible journey in Houston has ended for now and that we’ll be moving to a new chapter,” D’Antoni told ESPN in a statement.
D’Antoni reportedly turned down extension offers from the Rockets before the season, but those offers were short-term and included incentives.
D’Antonu leaves Houston with a 217-101 regular-season record as Rockets coach. But as has been the case though his coaching career, the Rockets never got over the playoff hump to win an NBA title.
At 69 years old (70 next May), D’Antoni seems intent on continuing to coach. He is now a candidate for virtually any opening.
These five teams should be calling Mike D’Antoni in very short order
5. Milwaukee Bucks
With his success in the regular season and playoff shortfalls, Mike Budenholzer is similar to D’Antoni. In two seasons Bucks’ coach Budenholzer is 116-39, followed by two early exits from the playoffs amid questions about lack of adjustments and how much he should play Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo has already met with Bucks ownership about the future, as he now heads into the last year of his contract. He has be assured the team will spend on his supporting cast, with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski also reporting Antetokounmpo and his camp are helping brainstorm personnel upgrades that might fit. Might a push for a new coach be coming?
The Bucks have appeared committed to keeping Budenholzer, of only for lack of an obvious better option. Now that D’Antoni is available, that better option is out there for the taking.