Stephen Silas won’t return as coach of the Houston Rockets next season, two people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Silas wrapped up his third season with the team when the Rockets beat the Washington Wizards, 114-109, to finish the season at 22-60. That will be the second- or third-worst record in the NBA, depending on the outcome of the San Antonio Spurs‘ game later Sunday.
Silas’ contract had a fourth-year option that the team is declining to pick up, according to the two people who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the move hasn’t been announced.
One of the people said the 49-year-old Silas could remain with the team in an undetermined role.
Silas, speaking to reporters in Washington after the game was over, said he had a meeting with Rockets officials scheduled for Monday morning but did not confirm that his tenure as Houston’s head coach was over. However, he seemed prepared for that likelihood and reflected on his time with the Rockets.
“I feel proud,” he said. “I wanted to be a head coach my whole life. I wanted to be like my dad. Proud of these guys, proud of their hard work, proud of their growth and maturity as they got through the season.”
The Rockets finished with the NBA’s worst record in each of his first two seasons, as they traded or released all their established stars to embark on a complete rebuild.
Houston won four of its last five games, but it wasn’t nearly enough to save the job of Silas, who joined the Rockets after spending 20 years with various NBA teams as an assistant coach and scout.
“There’s been a lot of talk about my job for a long time, right? For a couple [of] months,” Silas said. “They just kept playing and kept working and trying hard and weren’t worried about that. They were worried about getting better and playing hard for their coach. I’m proud of that.”
It was a difficult season for Silas. His father, longtime NBA player and coach Paul Silas, died in December.
“Definitely a hard year. Death is hard when your person closest to you, the person who teaches you all about what you’re doing on a daily basis, you lose him, it makes it difficult,” Silas said. “What made it easier was a group of guys in that locker room who wouldn’t quit, just tried hard and wanted to do the right things. And a staff full of people who I could share quiet moments with or lean on.”
Houston hasn’t had the first overall pick since 2002 when the team drafted Yao Ming.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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