Mike D'Antoni

NBA rumors: Mike D'Antoni turned down Rockets contract extension offer

NBA rumors: Mike D'Antoni turned down Rockets contract extension offer

The Warriors caused the dismantling of the Chris Paul-led Los Angeles Clippers. They caused the dismantling of the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers.

Now, they might lead to the dismantling of the Mike D'Antoni-led Houston Rockets.

Just days after reports surfaced that all Rockets players and draft picks were on the table, now comes word that Houston and their head coach have broken off contract extension talks.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic's Sam Amick broke the news that the two sides ended negotiations on Thursday, and the Houston Chronicle confirmed the news with D'Antoni himself.

"We could not come to terms on an extension,” D’Antoni told Jonathan Feigen. “I have my contract still. I’m looking forward to the year and having a great season.”

D'Antoni is still under contract for the 2019-20 season.

[RELATED: How to watch Warriors-Raptors Game 1]

If the Rockets blow up their roster and D'Antoni walks away after next season, the Warriors can take credit for bringing down another franchise with championship aspirations.

Mike D'Antoni explains why Warriors playing better without Kevin Durant

Mike D'Antoni explains why Warriors playing better without Kevin Durant

When Kevin Durant left Game 5 of the Warriors' second-round playoff series with the Houston Rockets, everyone assumed the two-time defending champions were in a world of trouble.

But after a rocky first half in Game 6, the Dubs brushed aside the Rockets and went on to sweep the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals all without Durant, who continues to rehab his calf strain ahead of the NBA Finals.

The return of the old-school Warriors (if 2015-16 can be considered old school), has led many to wonder if the Dubs are actually better without Durant.

This, of course, is insane. But you don't have to take my word for it. 

Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni had the misfortune of facing both versions of the Warriors during Houston's second-round loss, and he knows it's ridiculous to think the Warriors are better without the two-time NBA Finals MVP.

"They play a little bit differently, but I know one thing: When Kevin went out, everybody and every player and every coach and everybody in the country … who was against them was relieved that Kevin (wasn’t there)," D'Antoni told Sam Amick of The Athletic. "That gives you a clue, to me, that they’re better with him when everybody says, ‘Oh, thank goodness (he’s out).’

"Now, does that mean they’re not (capable of winning it all without him)? Heck, they were really good (before him). They won 73 games and a championship without him one year, and they probably should’ve won two. So it doesn’t mean they can’t win and be an unbelievable team, but Kevin Durant is just a special player. And again, I think without a doubt they’re better with him. But they’re really good without him also."

The Warriors have taken their play to another level with Durant out. D'Antoni thinks the improved level of play is a mixture of desperation and letting other players shine in different roles.

"Well, I think it puts them into more of a desperation mode," D'Antoni said. "We don’t have Kevin, and so yeah (they’re) more desperate. Do they turn it up a ways? Yeah, probably. But again, I think where they’ve gotten beside the point (in that discussion) is that we know how good the Splash Brothers and Kevin are, but Draymond Green is playing at a very, very high level, and he’s as valuable – if (not) more valuable – than anybody.

"They’ve got a bunch of players who can go, and missing one, I just think, made them more aware of what they needed to do. "

Without Durant, the Warriors looked vulnerable. But the Rockets swung and missed at the champs yet again, allowing Steph Curry to explode for 33 second-half points in Game 6 to eliminate them. 

So, what went wrong for Houston?

"We gave them too many shots," D'Antoni said. "You cannot give them extra possessions. We did that. We didn’t rebound the ball well, so that means we weren’t in transition as much as we should’ve been. And their defense, in a set half-court, is really, really good. I think the combinations of those two things, just getting out in transition and how we couldn’t do it because of the rebounding, I think that killed us. That killed us.

"We actually shot, probably, better than them for most of the series. I don’t know about the last game, but most of the series we shot better. So we did our parts on a lot of it, and I thought our defense was good. They made some great individual plays at the end of Game 6 – some great individual plays. What Steph did on a couple shots, and Klay (Thompson) in the first half (in which he had 21 of his 27 points), and then Steph in the second half. They have that championship mentality, and we just couldn’t snuff it out of them.”

[RELATED: How KD's early NBA Finals absence affects Warriors' matchups]

After losing to the Warriors yet again in the playoffs, the Rockets have to go back to the drawing board to find a way to knock off the champs.

That's no easy task, no matter what Durant decides to do in free agency.

Why Andre Iguodala-James Harden matchup could decide Warriors-Rockets series

Why Andre Iguodala-James Harden matchup could decide Warriors-Rockets series

HOUSTON -- Though Andre Iguodala uses several phrases to describe it, such as a “chess game” or one of “cat and mouse,” his clash with James Harden undoubtedly is first among the matchups to dictate the Warriors-Rockets NBA playoff series' outcome.

Through three second-round games, it’s 2-1 Warriors because Iguodala won the first two battles, while Harden won Game 3 on Saturday.

Put a small asterisk next to that Houston win, though, because Harden’s dagger shot when he turned the corner on Iguodala in overtime came on a play that, upon official review, the Rockets star should have been whistled for charging into Draymond Green in the paint.

Still, Harden emerged victorious because he scored 41 points on 14-of-32 shooting (43.8 percent) -- with 28 of those points coming after halftime on 10-of-21 shooting (47.6 percent). He had just three turnovers in 45 minutes.

The Beard benefited from at least two factors. One, Houston’s burly Eric Gordon drew the Warriors’ attention in the first half by scoring 20 points while repeatedly making bullish drives to the rim. Heightened awareness of his penetration softened the defense and gave Harden some operating room after halftime.

Two, Harden didn’t waste as much time trying to force a switch that would leave someone other than Iguodala. This was acknowledged by both Harden and Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni.

“We can’t worry about going at certain guys or picking on certain guys,” Harden said Sunday. “It drains the shot clock. So, if we can just push the pace and get stops and run and get our shots, that’s good enough.”

Dissatisfied with the results of the Harden-Iguodala matchup in Games 1 and 2, when Harden scored 64 points on but shot just 7 of 23 (30.4 percent) from deep and 18 of 47 (38.3 percent) overall, with 10 turnovers -- numbers that delighted the Warriors -- D’Antoni urged the reigning league MVP to be more assertive and not to waste time hunting for a switch.

“Yeah, we talked about it,” he said. “Nobody in the world can guard him, so you don’t have to make it easy. Just play. Just attack. It’s not always going to work out; they have great defenders. But when he’s in that mindset and he’s just attacking, it helps him and it helps everybody.”

So, now it’s up to Iguodala and the Warriors to see if, adjustments or not, they can contain Harden in Game 4.

“The biggest adjustment is always the emotional one, the fight, the competitive spirit,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Sunday. “That's the first adjustment that we have to make. That's the adjustment they made [in Game 3].”

The Warriors aren’t necessarily looking for Iguodala to stop Harden. That’s a lot to ask of one man against the man who won the scoring title by averaging 36.1 points per game, the highest total since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 in 1986-87.

“It has to be a team effort,” Kerr said.

[RELATED: Splash Brothers need to rain shots on Rockets to end series]

Iguodala, though, is the team leader in that effort.

“He made some really tough shots,” Iguodala said of Harden in Game 3. “Some shots where you pat him on the butt and you say, 'Hell of a shot.' "

“I felt like it was a little bit of cat and mouse. A guy like that, you can’t stop one-on-one. ... We just have to try to make it as hard as possible for him.”

Watch Harden’s numbers in Game 4. He'll be defended by Iguodala roughly 80 percent of the time. If The Beard is effective enough to lift his team, he and the Rockets could get the win. If not, Iguodala and the Warriors likely will go up three games to one.