The Houston Rockets are conferring with players regarding their apparent coaching finalists, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston.
The finalists are believed to be Jeff Van Gundy, who was Houston’s head coach from 2003-04 through 2006-07; Dallas Mavericks lead assistant Stephen Silas; and John Lucas, who was director of player development with the Rockets for the last four seasons under Mike D’Antoni.
Now 66 years old, Lucas was previously a head coach for three different NBA franchises in the 1990s and early 2000s.
“Sources said the next step for team officials is to consult with their players about their candidates,” Berman tweeted. The search is being led by new GM Rafael Stone, who is replacing Daryl Morey.
The consultation with players could be good news for Lucas, since Marc Stein of The New York Times has pointed to him as the preferred choice of All-Star guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
However, that initial preference could simply be based on familiarity, since Lucas already has existing relationships with the team based on his time under D’Antoni as an assistant. Presumably, the Rockets will also give other finalists (Van Gundy, Silas) an opportunity to speak with key players, and they might be able to convince the players of their merits.
The 58-year-old Van Gundy and 47-year-old Silas were each in Houston on Thursday and Friday, respectively, for a second day of interviews. It isn’t clear whether Lucas will get a second interview, but he may not need one — since the Rockets are already quite familiar with his work.
There is no definitive timetable for a hire to be made.