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Free agent Mike D’Antoni favors a return to the Rockets; James Harden hopes the coach will stay

Coach Mike D’Antoni, a free agent now that the Houston Rockets have been eliminated from the NBA playoffs, has said he prefers to stay with the organization.

This is the hope of James Harden, the face of the franchise.

“Of course. Of course,” Harden said after the Rockets’ 119-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday night in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. “Mike has done some amazing things here.”

The Rockets have passed 217-101 during D’Antoni’s four seasons in Houston, plus 28-23 in the playoffs, advancing after the first round of each season and to match 7 of the West finals in 201


The 69-year-old D’Antoni spent this season in the last year of his contract, after discussions to extend twice interrupted the last off-season in an unusually public way. Rocket owner Tillman Fertita and D’Antoni’s longtime agent, Warren Legari, have publicly blamed each other for failing to reach an extension agreement.

However, D’Antoni thanked the Rockets on Saturday night when he reiterated his intention to continue training, whether in Houston or elsewhere.

“We have a great organization, a great city, great fans, a great team,” said D’Antoni. “I mean, everything is fine here. We’ll see what happens, but I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I was four years old. We hope it continues, but you never know. But everything is fine on this side , definitely.

“It was fun. It’s still fun. You always hate to lose. It’s always a little bitter, but I couldn’t ask for better people to work with and better players to work with. A lot of things stand out. , very small things, but I had a great four years, for sure. “

D’Antoni is considered the leading candidate in the Indiana Pacers coaching search, Adrian Voynarovsky of ESPN recently announced. Sources told ESPN that at least one other team with a coaching position has a strong interest in D’Antoni.

D’Antoni, who has a career record of 672 to 527, is widely recognized as a revolutionary change in the NBA. His Phoenix Suns’ Seven Seconds or Less teams broke conventional norms by pushing the pace and firing more 3 points than any team has had so far, a style of play adopted throughout the league for a decade and a half. later. The Rockets pushed the extremes even further, setting records for the three attempts in each of D’Antoni’s first three years and canceling the traditional central position this season.

D’Antoni, whose Phoenix teams thrived with Steve Nash as a pick and roll maestro, adapted his offensive system to play Harden’s strengths as a historically elite isolation player in Houston. Harden, whose move to point guard was the first big decision D’Antoni made with the Rockets, thrived in his four seasons together, winning assists, three scoring titles and an MVP award.

“The experience was great – it made me focus on the ball player and just come up with different schemes and basically change the game,” said Harden, who had 30 points and five assists in losing Game 5. “It was an amazing experience. for us. It obviously didn’t end the way we wanted it to. We just have to understand it. “

D’Antoni said he had not yet considered his potential if he did not return to the Rockets.

“First, I’ll be right back in my room for a little pathetic party,” D’Antoni said. “Then we’ll figure it out later. Right now, that’s still enough for me to think of nothing but a little.”

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