Van Gundy surprised by reports of his departure

Updated: May 8, 2007, 5:04 PM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy dismissed a rumor Monday that he's going to retire or quit any time soon. But he also said he would take some time to evaluate his future.

Van Gundy's Coaching Record
Jeff Van Gundy
Van Gundy
Jeff Van Gundy is 430-318 in coaching stints in New York and Houston. He has a 44-44 record in the postseason.
Year
Team
Record
Playoffs
2006-07
HOU
52-30
3-4
2005-06
HOU
34-48
None
2004-05
HOU
51-31
3-4
2003-04
HOU
45-37
1-4
2001
NYK
10-9
None
2000-01
NYK
48-34
2-3
1999-00
NYK
50-32
9-7
1999
NYK
27-23
12-8
1997-98
NYK
43-39
4-6
1996-97
NYK
57-25
6-4
1996
NYK
13-10
4-4

The Rockets' season ended in Saturday's Game 7 loss to Utah, and a report in Sunday's New York Post said Van Gundy was going to retire.

"I do the same thing every year since I've been coaching -- I sit back and I think about what's right for the team and what's right for myself," he said. "This is no different."

Van Gundy said he had no immediate plans to make a major decision.

"To do that, when I'm still emotionally frustrated with the outcome [of the series] would be, really, a disservice to everybody involved," he said. "Where that originated, I haven't seen the story, so I can't tell you. When I got called about it, it caught me off-guard a little bit."

Van Gundy has one year left on his non-guaranteed contract, meaning the Rockets have the right to terminate it any time after June 30. Van Gundy said he had no specific timetable for meeting with Rockets owner Les Alexander to discuss it.

"To me, I'm under contract, I love the team, I like the organization a lot, I've been treated extremely well here. I have zero complaints."

Van Gundy met with his players for about 15 minutes Monday morning.

Afterward, Tracy McGrady reiterated his support for Van Gundy, calling him "the best coach I ever played for." But McGrady offered no insight into whether Van Gundy addressed his future during the meeting.

"As far as I'm concerned, he's still our coach and that's all I can give you," said McGrady, who added that Van Gundy told the players during the meeting he'd be talking with them individually over the summer.

Van Gundy repeatedly chastised himself Monday for losing Saturday's game and three other home playoff games in his four seasons as the Rockets' coach -- to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 in 2004 and twice to Dallas in 2005.

Van Gundy expected those losses to come up when he sat down with Alexander and new general manager Daryl Morey, the successor to retiring Carroll Dawson.

"This is a result-oriented business," Van Gundy said. "I have to take responsibility. Those four home playoff losses -- I'm not saying you're going to win them all. But if you're management, you have to look at that, certainly."

The Rockets haven't won a playoff series since 1997, and Van Gundy has lost their last three. He's had Yao Ming for all three series and Yao and McGrady for the last two.

"Mac and Yao, they are great best players to coach. They want to work, they want to win," Van Gundy said. "I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to help, not just those two, but the whole group get over the hump in that first round. That's where my emotion is right now."

The Rockets went 52-30 this season, their best record since 1997. Van Gundy said the franchise has "made strides forward," but needs to make offseason changes to compete with the elite in the Western Conference. He wouldn't specify what those changes might be.

"We're a really good regular-season team," he said. "What we have to decide is whether that can translate into playoff success. Something's got to change, so we can get more playoff success."

Van Gundy, a former assistant to Pat Riley and Don Nelson, coached New York for six seasons, then quit when the Knicks started 10-9 in 2001-02. He spent the next year working in television before becoming Houston's coach before the 2003-04 season.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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