Houston has a problem. Mike D’Antoni needs a new home and John Wall needs a career revival. They might be the perfect paring to help each other.
This offseason the Rockets gutted D’Antoni’s coaching staff. The highly rated defensive assistant, Jeff Bzdelik, contract was not renewed. Roy Rogers, another top defensive assistant, also did not receive a new contact and defensive assistant, Mitch Vanya, was let go.
Along with those three departures, Irv Roland, a player development coach was let go. Roland was reportedly close to Chris Paul, PJ Tucker, and James Harden. Roland served as James Harden’s personal trainer since 2016.
Since 2016, when D’Antoni and Roland joined the Rockets, Harden has averaged 31.9 points, 9.2 assists, 6.8 rebounds and was the MVP in 2018. Harden was also the NBA scoring champion in 2018 and 2019 as well as the NBA assists leader in 2017.
These moves were reportedly made to discourage D’Antoni to re-sign with the Rockets. Many NBA experts believe that the Rockets cannot win a championship within D’Antoni’s offensive system.
D’Antoni has a year left on his contract and any contract extension seems dead at the moment. D’Antoni’s agent, Warren LeGarie said to the Houston Chronicle “We chose based on the current market for coaches of his stature as well as what he has done for the Rockets, the offer did not make sense for him”.
It is clear that the Rockets made a low-ball offer and Per ESPN, “LeGarie maintains D’Antoni deserves a multi-year extension with a higher base salary than what the Rockets have offered so far”.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Rockets are also reportedly interested in bringing in Ty Lue as a top assistant and possible also as associate head coach. Ty Lue is an NBA Champion head coach with a great pedigree on the offensive and defensive sides.
The Rockets could have D’Antoni’s replacement on staff, if next season does not end well. Ty Lue could take over like he did for David Blatt and the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2016.
The Wizards are a compelling place for D’Antoni. Scott Brooks would have one year left and with three disappointing seasons and another on the way as star point guard John Wall will mist most of the 2019-2020 season due to an Achilles injury.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Washington is trying to make a giant splash with Toronto’s Masai Ujiri. Offering Ujiri up to $10 million annually to be their next president of basketball operations.
If Toronto grants Washington permission to interview and Ujiri accepts the job, Ujiri will want to make a coaching splash of his own and that could be D’Antoni.
Going into the 2020-2021 season, The Wizards will need a new voice in the organization to light a spark and John Wall will need a career revival after missing significant time the past three seasons. Wall will also have to live up to his contract of $41,202,000 million dollars, $44,254,000 million dollars and $47,306,000 million dollars over the next three years.
D’Antoni could be that new voice. D’Antoni has nine playoff appearances in his career along with three conference finals appearances out west. The last time a Washington team made the NBA conference finals, they were called the Washington Bullets, all the way back during the 1978-1979 season.
D’Antoni offensive system created three MVPs. Steve Nash in 2005 and 2006 with the seven seconds or less Suns and recently James Harden in 2018. Washington has never had an MVP and in D’Antoni system, Wall could replicate Harden’s numbers.
A pairing of Wall and Beal in D’Antoni’s system would be great for Washington. Beal would be on a contract year, which might motivate him even more.
Former Wizards Head Video Coordinator, Bryan Oringher, talked with me, on the topic of whether Wall could put up similar numbers.
“John not being able to shoot hurts,” Oringher said, “but he has averaged better assist numbers than Harden and is similarly brilliant reading the PNR.”
Even if Beal is traded, he should bring back a haul. A rumored trade from Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report is that Beal will be sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Steven Adams, Jerami Grant, Terrance Ferguson, the twenty-first pick in the 2019 NBA draft and a 2021 first rounder.
D’Antoni could use Wall and Adams in the PNR the same way he has done with Harden and Clint Capela. Adams and Grant are both 25-years-old. Ferguson is a 21-year-old and with the two young players they can get from the picks, that gives the Wizards a nice group to build around.
We should also expect that if D’Antoni was to come over that he will put a veteran staff together. Assuming that John Wall is the same player when he comes back, Washington has much to look forward to.