Rockets fire Van Gundy as coach |

Rockets fire Van Gundy as coach

AP PhotoHouston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy tries to give directions to his teammates during the fourth quarter of a basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers in March.

HOUSTON ” Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy was fired Friday, less than two weeks after Houston made yet another first-round playoff exit.

The Rockets went 52-30 this season but lost to Utah in seven games, raising the possibility Van Gundy was going to resign or be dismissed. This was the Rockets’ third first-round loss in four seasons under Van Gundy.

Van Gundy had one nonguaranteed year left on his contract, meaning the team held the option to retain him. The team reportedly has contacted Rick Adelman, the former coach of Portland, Golden State and Sacramento.

General manager Daryl Morey scheduled an afternoon news conference. The firing comes days after Morey took over for the retiring Carroll Dawson following the Rockets’ playoff elimination.

The Rockets said in a statement they talked with Van Gundy during a “prolonged negotiating period,” and he was offered a position with the team as a senior consultant.

“He asked for, and was granted, additional time to evaluate his situation with the agreement that we would begin looking into other candidates,” Morey said. “During that process it became clear that Jeff did not want to continue in any capacity with the team other than as head coach.”

Van Gundy led the Rockets to a 182-146 record in four seasons. But Houston went 7-12 in three postseason appearances and more was expected from teams anchored by All-Stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.

McGrady dropped to 0-6 in playoff series when the Rockets lost to Utah, which took advantage of Golden State’s first-round upset of Dallas and advanced to the Western Conference finals by beating the Warriors in five games.

Van Gundy now may be headed back to one of his old jobs. He was scheduled to work as a guest analyst for ESPN on Friday night’s playoff game between Phoenix and San Antonio.

Van Gundy was working in television when the Rockets hired him before the 2003-04 season. Before that, Van Gundy coached the New York Knicks for seven seasons, leading them to the NBA finals in 1999.

He joined the Rockets as the 10th head coach in franchise history in 2003. Van Gundy’s career coaching record is 430-318, but only 44-44 in the postseason.

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