Last night, The Monitor broke the news that Clay Moser has been informed by the Houston Rockets that they have decided not to retain him as the Rio Grande Valley Vipers head coach. Not exactly shocking as we'd been hearing that the Rockets opened Moser's position and were interviewing other candidates since they bought into the Vipers via the hybrid model, but it is disappointing.
Last season, Moser's first as a D-League head coach, ended in a bit of disappointment in the form of a 21-29 season, but it's hard to put the blame on Moser. Smush Parker, Alton Ford and Kendall Dartez - three of the better Vipers to begin the season - all left for more money overseas midseason, leaving Moser to retool without much, well, tools. This was especially evident when the Vipers lost Jared Jordan to injury for a month during the season, but before Jawad Williams joined the team for about a month and a half before being called-up.
As confusing as that was to read, imagine coaching it. Fortunately, Moser was able to find Kurt Looby, who was more than likely the steal of the D-League draft (after a bit of coaching, because he wasn't impressive right out of the gates), or else the season likely would have been worse.
It seems to us, Moser, like Paul Woolpert before him, was given the shaft a bit prematurely, which was probably inevitable once the Rockets took control. I mean, he went 21-29 last season!!! He probably sucks at coaching!! Well, according to the resume, not really.
Moser's career began as an assistant under the legendary Jim Valvano at NC State way back in 1987 (Thankfully the year AFTER Chris Washburn). He's also worked for the Sioux Falls Skyforce and Idaho Stampede as General Manager/Basketball Ops and was the head coach of the Great Lakes Storm (All CBA). Plus, he's worked as an assistant/advance scout for the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic. Aside from that, he's also been a head coach in China and was the VP of Business Development for the New Orleans Hornets for a season. Needless to say, he has experience in all facets of the game.
Now that we know who was fired (but still aren't sure why because Moser seems to be qualified), our esteemed colleague Matt Moore over at Hardwood Paroxysm hit on what this might mean for the Rockets. It basically means that the Rockets are looking to spend a lot of money on a coach that, as Rockets GM Daryl Morey says, they found someone more experienced and accomplished, and they were surprised that person became a candidate.
Well, we've only heard two names that are still in the running for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers coaching search. The two rather prominent candidates are former University of Virginia coach Dave Leitao and RJ Adelman, the son of Houston Rockets head coach Rick Adelman.
In Leitao, the Rockets would be getting a coach with no minor league or NBA coaching experience. In RJ Adelman, nepotism an up-and-coming coach that just happens to have a father that is the head coach of the Vipers parent club. Are we looking at a Red Claws situation here?
Hopefully Morey and complany have a third candidate because neither name we've heard is either more experienced OR more accomplished. Apparently the NBA's stance on D-League players (read: not good enough) carries over to D-League coaches as well.