Why Rick Adelman Leaving Houston Sends Rockets In The Wrong Direction

The Houston Rockets and coach Rick Adelman parted ways on Monday, but after missing the playoffs in 2011, getting rid of Rick Adelman isn't exactly a step in the right direction for them.

Adelman's contract wasn't renewed by Houston's Daryl Morey, and apparently the separation was mutual. But it's mentioned here because this is a mistake that lots of NBA teams make; things get stale under one regime, so naturally, the solution is regime change.

But take it from someone that's spent the past two years watching Flip Saunders butcher his coaching duties in Washington--"new" isn't always "better." Especially when the old coach is someone as talented as Rick Adelman, and the next best option is Mario Elie.

So why'd Houston let him leave?

For one thing, it appears he wasn't totally on board with the Rockets' rebuilding process. On this one, SB Nation's Rockets blog elaborates. From the Dream Shake:

The problem, however, is that Rick Adelman had tunnel vision.  He was coaching to win and win now.  Normally, this is an admirable goal.  The current iteration of the Rockets just happen to be one of the exceptions to the rule.  The Rockets found themselves stuck in neutral two years ago.  A mediocre team with no hopes of winning either a Championship of the lottery. 

Daryl Morey noticed this problem early on, and quickly began re-structuring the roster on the fly... bringing in players such as Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Patrick Patterson, Brad Miller, Courtney Lee, and on and on.  Yes, he also brought in Brent Barry and Trevor Ariza and Aaron Brooks and he traded away talent like Nicolas Batum for Ron Artest (and Joey Dorsey!).  Now, in a vacuum, this is a smart strategy.  The problem is that Rick Adelman is not the kind of coach that meshes well with a rebuilding project.  In short, Adelman does not like playing inexperienced players.  Ever.  Conflict was inevitable.

But that sort of proves the point. Rick Adelman made the most out of Houston's incomplete rosters the past few years, and ultimately, if you listen to the voices coming out of Houston, he's gone now because he refused to NOT make the most out of them. Rather than develop someone like Hasheem Thabeet, he preferred to go with guys that gave Houston a shot at the playoffs.

Adelman and Daryl Morey weren't on the same page, so they went their separate ways.

That's fine, and it helps explain how the Rockets could possibly rationalize going from Rick Adelman to someone like Mario Elie or Jack Sikma or whichever unproven coach the end up with.

Whether it's a step back to eventually take two steps forward remains to be seen, though. And for now, for Rockets fans, the first part of that equation is the only thing that's certain in Houston.

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