McHale comes to the Rockets with limited coaching experience. He compiled a record of 39 wins and 55 losses during two brief stints as interim coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, where he was a team executive. Most recently he was a TV analyst. During his playing days the seven-time All-Star helped the Boston Celtics earned three championships and he was later elected to the Hall of Fame. McHale says he’s excited to take over a young team with a strong nucleus.
“I mean, they get up and down the floor. I love a lot of stuff that Rick Adelman did offensively with these guys. I think they scored up a storm. I think that they have pieces in place that are very good pieces.”
McHale takes over for Adelman, whose contract wasn’t renewed after four seasons. The Rockets finished last season with a record of 43-39, not good enough to get into the playoffs. McHale says his goal is to make the Rockets a playoff-caliber team, but to do that they have to work on defense.
“Look, that’s the best thing about the NBA. There’s a million different ways to play it, but you have to have conviction in the way that you feel the team needs to be played. And I have a lot of conviction on how the game should be played — uptempo, but you’ve got to defend. You’ve got to be able to play fast, but you’ve got to be able to defend.”
Rockets owner Les Alexander had lots of praise for McHale, calling him a strong leader and a perfect fit for the team.