BOSTON – Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was caught completely off-guard Wednesday morning when he received the news that the Houston Rockets had fired coach Kevin McHale.
"It’s preposterous,’’ said Carlisle, whose team will play the Boston Celtics at 6:30 Wednesday night at TD Garden. "It’s beyond belief.
"I’m really shocked. It’s just hard to believe that something like that could happen at this stage. The guy took the team unexpectedly to the Conference finals last year, and to have this happen after 11 games, preposterous is the only word that I can come up with.’’
After advancing to last season’s Western Conference Finals, the Rockets were a disappointing 4-7 this season while becoming the first team in NBA history to open a season by losing three consecutive games by at least 20 points. On Tuesday – one day after a 111-95 home loss to the Boston Celtics – the Rockets held a players-only meeting.
But McHale never got the chance to reap the benefits from that meeting.
Mavs forward Chandler Parsons played his first three NBA seasons with the Rockets under McHale and was completely stunned to hear that he had lost his job.
"He’s an unbelievable guy and one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever played for, and definitely one that’s positive,’’ Parsons said. "He’s one of the best human beings I ever met, so I feel terrible for him.
"Six months ago they’re in the conference finals and a year ago he signed an extension. I’m not really sure why (McHale got fired), but obviously they’re struggling a little bit, but it’s hard to think all of that is his fault.’’
Forward Dirk Nowitzki knows about coaching changes, since the Mavs relieved Avery Johnson of his duties following the 2007-’08 season. Thus, Nowitzki can relate to the fragile position of the coaching profession.
"Stuff happens all the time,’’ Nowitzki said. (The Rockets) started struggling a little bit and the next thing you know the coach is gone, but that’s part of the league.
"You already know when you take a coaching job usually you have all the responsibilities on you, and if things don’t go well, it’s on the coach. It’s tough sometimes, but that’s how it works in this league.’’
Carlisle and McHale are long-time friends and, as players, won an NBA title together in 1986 when they played for the Celtics. So, when Carlisle had to think about one of close friends lose his job, it cuts real deep with him.
"I don’t expect it, nobody expects this,’’ Carlisle said. "It’s very disappointing to hear, but Kevin will be fine.
"He’s got a lot of time to rest and relax and there will be a lot of people wanting to hire him, I can tell you that.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com.