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Report: Kenny Smith out of Rockets coaching search; Vogel, Van Gundy still in

Kenny Smith

Come on now. You didn’t really think that with his job likely on the line with this hire Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey was going to hire a guy right out of the broadcast studio who has never been a coach nor ever worked in a front office? Now is not the time for a gamble hire in Houston, it’s time to get someone who knows how to do the job.

Meaning TNT’s Inside the NBA will get to keep Kenny “The Jet” Smith as he will not be hired by the Rockets, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Former Rockets guard Kenny Smith will no longer be a candidate to be Rockets head coach, a person with knowledge of the decision said Monday on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the process.

Smith was described as very impressive and likely to become an NBA head coach if he pursues it, the individual familiar with the decision-making said, but the Rockets will shift their focus to experienced head coaches and extremely experienced assistants.

The rumor is former Knicks and Rockets coach turned analyst Jeff Van Gundy is at the front of the line — even though there has been no formal meeting between Van Gundy and Morey. Those two men know each other, Feigen points out, while Morey is still getting to know other candidates such as Frank Vogel, David Blatt, Jeff Hornacek, Mike D’Antoni, and Sam Cassell.

Both Van Gundy and Vogel seem like fits on the surface. The Rockets need a coach that can get this team back to defending, and both coaches are defense-first guys who did just that with varied rosters. Offensively neither is know for running the most complicated sets, but with the Rockets there is going to be a lot of James Harden pick-and-roll regardless of coach.

If the Rockets have a real interest in Vogel, they may need to move quickly as his name has come up in the New York and Orlando coaching searches already.