Kenny Smith has a pretty sweet gig on the set of TNT’s NBA coverage, and it looks as though he will be sticking around to share a few laughs and provide his analysis alongside Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal and Ernie Johnson. Smith has been informed he will not be in the final running to fill the head coaching vacancy with the Houston Rockets, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle.
From the sound of it, Smith’s chances to coach the team were not diminished from his interview process. All indications are he interviewed quite well for the job, and the thought is he may one day become a head coach in the NBA. The Rockets, however, are believed to be looking for a coaching candidate that already owns some coaching experience coming into the job.
Smith has been in the broadcasting game since 1998, the year after he played his final NBA game with the Denver Nuggets, which of course has meant he has had not time to dabble in the coaching aspect of the game. This is not to say or suggest Smith would have been a bad hire by the Rockets, but surely even Smith would acknowledge there is a big difference between playing and analyzing the game and coaching the game. Without even some assistant coaching experience behind him, making that transition right to a head coach might be a bit of a struggle. This is simply something the Rockets do not want to take a chance on.
This is also why some of the names still considered to be in the mix for the Houston job all have something in common that Smith does not. David Blatt and Mike D’Antoni each have prior head coaching experience. Chris Finch has been an assistant coach for the past five years in Houston. Jeff Hornacek has been an assistant coach since 2011 and Sam Cassell has been an assistant coach with Washington and the Clippers since 2009. All are reported to still be in the conversation for the Houston vacancy.