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Rockets Hire Adelman As Head Coach

Updated:
HOUSTON (AP) _ Rick Adelman was out of coaching and enjoying life away from the NBA spotlight. The chance to coach Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming was too much to pass up.

Adelman was set to be introduced as the new coach of the Houston Rockets on Wednesday afternoon, less than a week after Jeff Van Gundy was dismissed.

``I always knew I was going to look for something eventually,'' Adelman said Tuesday night as he arrived at an airport in Houston, where he was met by team officials. ``This is obviously just a great situation with the city, the organization. I'm really excited.''

Adelman, 60, brings an up-tempo, high-scoring system to Houston, a stark contrast to Van Gundy's more defense-minded and methodical approach. Van Gundy was fired Friday after the Rockets were bounced from the opening round of the playoffs for the third time in his four seasons.

Adelman hasn't coached since the Sacramento Kings chose not to renew his contract after the 2005-06 season. The Kings had a winning record and made the playoffs in each of Adelman's eight seasons.

Rockets owner Les Alexander targeted Adelman even before Van Gundy had decided whether he would return. He was the only coach interviewed and will become the 11th coach in Rockets history.

``I've had a pretty good track record over the years,'' he said. ``Obviously, they thought I could do something good here.''

In their last season under Van Gundy, the Rockets finished 52-30, their best regular-season record in 10 years, then lost to Utah in the first round. Houston went 182-146 under Van Gundy, but went 7-12 in three postseason appearances.

Adelman previously coached Golden State and Portland. The Trail Blazers made two NBA finals appearances under Adelman in 1990 and '92, losing both times. With the Kings, his teams were among the best and highest-scoring in the NBA but they couldn't get past the Lakers of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal.

Adelman has a 752-481 record in 16 seasons and his teams have made the playoffs 14 times. His teams made it out of the first round seven of those 14 times, and he is 70-68 in the playoffs.

Alexander has been unavailable for comment since Van Gundy was dismissed. Van Gundy said Alexander had issues with the team's slow style and wanted the Rockets to play more like the fast-breaking Phoenix Suns.

Adelman said the main draw of this job is the chance to coach McGrady and Yao, perennial All-Stars who've still never won a playoff series.

``In this league, I learned a long time ago, it's a lot easier to coach when you have good players,'' Adelman said. ``This team has that. I watched them at the end of last year, when they came to Portland. I was really impressed with the way they played.''

Morey said last week Adelman will have final say in choosing his own coaching staff. Tom Thibodeau, Van Gundy's top assistant, is seeking a head coaching job and has interviewed for the vacancy in Sacramento, Morey said.

Adelman said he's already thought about changes he'll make, though he wouldn't specify them upon arriving.

``Ever since we had our first interview, when I started talking to them, you look at it and say, 'Geez, what can you do with that team?''' he said. ``The things we've done in the past will work for anybody. You just have to put players in good positions and they'll respond.''

Adelman became Portland's head coach in 1989 and Portland reached the finals the following year, losing to Detroit. The Blazers, led by Clyde Drexler, were back in the finals two years later and lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in six games.

Portland fired Adelman after the 1993-94 season. After two unsuccessful seasons with Golden State, Adelman moved to Sacramento and the Kings never had a losing record under him.

He was dismissed after the Kings lost in the first round in 2006 to San Antonio. The Kings were eliminated in the first round four times during Adelman's tenure.
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