Former Houston Rocket guard Mario Elie, former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown and current Houston assistants Elston Turner and Jack Sikma are the leading candidates early in the team's search for a replacement for Rick Adelman, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Turner and Sikma shared Adelman's entire Houston tenure; Turner was Adelman's top assistant with the Sacramento Kings, as well.
Elie currently works for those Kings, under Paul Westphal. Sacramento has Westphal under contract for 2011-12 and is expected to retain the coach based on a solid finish with a young core; if Westphal falls into danger next season, Elie would have been an obvious replacement candidate, and he, more so than other assistants Jim Eyen and Truck Robinson, seems like a natural heir for the Kings job.
Brown worked for ESPN this season after being canned by the Cavaliers at the end of the 2009-10 season. He is considered the top candidate for the Indiana Pacers job should Frank Vogel be dismissed at season's end. As Feigen notes, both of Rockets owner Leslie Alexander's previous coaching hires -- Adelman and Jeff Van Gundy -- had appeared in the NBA Finals prior to being hired by Houston. Brown took the Cavs to the 2007 NBA Finals, where LeBron James and friends were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
But this version of the Rockets is far from a title contender. Houston missed the playoffs for the second straight season despite going 43-39.