The Rockets fire coach Kevin McHale after a surprisingly bad start to the season

The Houston Rockets have fired head coach Kevin McHale just 11 games into the NBA season. Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski first broke the news on Twitter.

McHale, who had coached the Rockets since 2011, led them to the playoffs every year except his first. Last season, the Rockets came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers to reach the Western Conference Finals, where they fell to the eventual champions, the Golden State Warriors.

Just one season later, the Rockets have limped to a 4-7 record that nobody saw coming. With Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverly returning from injury, and Ty Lawson coming over from Denver in a trade to help bolster their backcourt, the Rockets were many basketball writers’ dark horse to win the Western Conference. 

To start the season, however, the Rockets lost their first three games, all by 20 points or more. They rallied back to 4-3, but have since lost four straight and looked out of sorts both offensively and defensively.

Earlier this week, the team held a player’s only meeting to clear the air and work through some of their problems. 

“What happens in the room, stays in the room,” Dwight Howard told ESPN afterwards. “It was good for us to sit down and talk, but it’s a long season and you can’t get caught up in losing a couple of games and getting upset and so frustrated and feel like it’s the end of the world. It is embarrassing.”

Several other players expressed similar satisfaction with the meeting, including James Harden, who has struggled this season. In the games the Rockets have won, Harden has scored 38.5 points per game, and in the games they have lost, he’s scored 20.9.

As Wojnarowski noted, the decision to fire McHale is particularly surprising because it comes one year after the Houston front office gave the head coach a contract extension. However, the team’s talent and the depth of the Western Conference (the Rockets are currently 11th) forced them to act quickly. 

 J.B. Bickerstaff will serve as the team’s interim head coach.


McHale is the first NBA coach to be fired this season.

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