Rockets coach Kevin McHale didn’t have the best relationship with some of his players last season. In fact, Kyle Lowery basically came out and said that neither he nor Goran Dragic would play for McHale past the season.
And he was right. He now plays for the Raptors and Dragic is with the Suns.
But McHale contends that his issues with Lowry and Dragic weren’t because of anything he did. It wasn’t because of his yelling and his in-your-face coaching style. It was because the lockout didn’t give him the opportunity to forge relationships with his players. So they could get used to his yelling and his in-your-face coaching style. And that’s something that McHale is enjoying this year’s Rockets squad.
“It’s much more comfortable just knowing that we’re here, planning with the coaches, having players coming in and out, being able to talk to them about what we’re envisioning,” McHale, 54, said. “We’re just getting a comfort level with each other as opposed to having the lockout lifted, two days and then getting started.”
Last season, the first time most Rockets players heard McHale’s voice (unless they were fans of NBA TV or “Cheers” reruns) was when he was furious with the terrible and revealing first practice. As players pushed back, objecting to his changes and demands, McHale often cited the lockout and inability to forge relationships before he began the December rush to the season.
McHale is the coach and he can run his ship any way he wants to run it. But to blame the lockout on players not buying into the way he runs his ship just doesn’t make sense.
Odds are that Lowery and Dragic weren’t buying in no matter how much time they had with McHale.