Rookie coach Stephen Silas thinking title from start in Houston
HOUSTON — Growing up with an NBA coach as a father, Stephen Silas started his education into the ins and outs of coaching long before he chose it as a career.
When he decided to pursue the profession, it was his father, now-retired Paul Silas who gave him his first job as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. Twenty years later, the younger Silas continues to follow in his father’s footsteps as he begins his first head coaching job with the Houston Rockets.
“The reason I’m here is because of him, the reason I’m prepared for this position is because I’ve been preparing for this all my life,” Silas said Thursday after being introduced in Houston following his hiring Friday.
The Rockets hired Silas after Mike D’Antoni decided not to return when his contract expired following Houston’s loss to the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals.
Along with the Hornets, the 47-year-old Silas has worked as an assistant in Cleveland, Washington, Golden State and has spent the last three seasons in Dallas. He knows those years of experience have helped prepare him for this opportunity but believes being exposed to great coaches as a child helped shape him as well.
“It’s been being in locker rooms for years when I was little,” he said. “My dad coached with Chuck Daly and Pat Riley and I was there and watching film with my dad. And all the things and the people that I’ve met and the things that I’ve learned over those years, that’s what makes me ready for this position.”
Paul Silas won three NBA titles during a 16-year playing career before spending the next 32 years in various NBA coaching positions. He was the head coach of the San Diego Clippers, the Hornets, Cavaliers and Bobcats.
Stephen Silas played for Brown in the Ivy League. He recalled the moment he phoned his now 77-year-old father to tell him that he’d been hired by the Rockets.
“It was amazing,” he said adding that he’s already sent him a box of Rockets’ gear. “It was the best feeling in the world because he gave me my first opportunity and asked me, do you want to coach?”
Silas inherits a team led by stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook that has been to the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons.
“For me it being my first head coaching experience and being in a win- now situation that’s great,” Silas said. “I’m a win-now coach. So, to not have to deal with growing and all that type of stuff, to think championship right away is exciting to me and I prepared for it and I’m ready for it.”
Silas doesn’t have any major changes planned for the team, but just wants to try and improve on what has already been successful. He met with both Harden and Westbrook during the interview process and was impressed with their team-first attitude.
“I didn’t know either guy very well coming into the situation,” Silas said. “So, for them to be talking less about stats or offense or whatever and talking more about, hey, we have an opportunity to win and win big, that was so gratifying.”
Silas will work under new general manager Rafael Stone, who was also introduced Thursday after being promoted last month when Daryl Morey stepped down. Stone, who most recently served as Houston’s executive vice president of basketball operations, has worked in the team’s front office for the last 15 years.
He said his new position shouldn’t be that big of a transition because he and Morey worked “hand-in-hand” over the past few years. Morey was hired as Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations on Monday.
Stone was coy when asked about his plans for upgrading the roster as the Rockets chase their first title since winning back-to-back trophies in 1994-95.
“We have an immensely talented roster... the goal is to bring in another guy or two who can really complement these guys,” he said. “And there are a variety of mechanisms we can use to do it. And we’ll be just incredibly aggressive about making that happen.”