HOUSTON – Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and Rick Adelman talked for hours, sharing their ideas for how to mold the team into a championship contender.
They just couldn't find enough common ground.
The Rockets announced Monday that Adelman would not be retained after going 193-135 in four seasons. His contract expires on June 30.
"Coach Adelman did as good, if not the best job anyone could've done with this roster," Morey said. "It's not about, did he do a good job, or was our roster perfect? I feel like we need change, and we need to continue to change until we get to where we want to be."
Adelman, 64, guided Houston to its lone playoff series victory since 1997 and moved into eighth on the NBA's all-time list for regular season coaching wins (945) at the end of the season.
Adelman said Tuesday that he was uneasy with the direction that Morey and owner Leslie Alexander wanted to go from here, with more roster changes coming.
"We had conversations that we talked about the framework of what they wanted and could I be comfortable in that framework?" Adelman said. "We talked through that. A lot of it was fine. Some of it, I thought, was unnecessary and was going to be difficult. There was opportunity there, but it didn't mesh. It didn't mesh."
Neither Morey nor Adelman would elaborate on specifics of their meetings or any philosophical differences.
"He and I talked a lot, and we agreed to keep those conversations to ourselves," Morey said. "I have a lot of admiration for him. We feel like we need change. Our goal is to be a championship-caliber team. We feel like we can grow into that, with some of the players on the roster.
"But we feel like we're not there right now, and that requires change. The differences in terms of the mutual fit, revolve around that."
Houston went 43-39 this season, missing the playoffs for the second straight year. The Rockets played virtually all of the past two seasons without All-Stars Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, who were plagued by injuries.
Adelman defended the job that his staff did, especially in developing one of the league's youngest rosters. The Rockets were one of the league's highest-scoring teams, averaging 105.9 points per game.
"I said that right along that I have one of the best staffs in the league," Adelman said. "So I don't understand the emphasis on change, or whatever they wanted to do, when we brought young guys around. We were successful with pretty good guys, some stars, and pretty successful with these other guys."
Morey said Adelman assistants Elston Turner and Jack Sikma would be considered for the vacancy, and Adelman has already lobbied for them.
"They're both ready," Adelman said. "Elston's been ready for a long time, and he's had a couple of opportunities that he's been very close on. I think some of those places wish they would've hired him. And Jack has been doing this a long time, too. He was a very successful player in this league, and he's been on different staffs."
The Rockets are seeking their third coach since Rudy Tomjanovich stepped down in 2003 because of health reasons. Jeff Van Gundy went 182-146 from 2003-07 and led Houston to three playoff appearances.
Morey would not say whether he's leaning toward another experienced hand, or opting this time for a younger, up-and-coming assistant. He set no timeline for finding Adelman's successor, and said the looming NBA labor dispute would not alter Houston's hiring process.
"The only league environment that's affecting our choice of a coach is all options for who we might want to consider are unavailable for the interview right now," Morey said, "because some of those options would be in the playoffs."
Adelman plans to move back to Portland, Ore., and start preparing for two family weddings this summer. He said he would listen to any offer that comes his way.
"When you leave a place, you kind of wonder, 'Well, will I ever have another opportunity?'" he said. "I've had that happen a couple of times, where I've had opportunities and if I was interested, I probably could get it again. But I'm just going to wait and see what happens."
Adelman led Portland to two NBA finals in the early 1990s, and was fired after the 1993-94 season. He had two losing seasons in Golden State, before building Sacramento into a Western Conference power in the early 2000s. His contract was not renewed by the Kings after they went 44-38 in 2005-06.
He's leaving Houston with a positive feeling, mostly because he developed such close ties to his players. All of them advocated Adelman's return in their exit meetings with team management, and Adelman said the relationships he built with them makes him want to coach again.
"When you have the receptiveness that we had from these players, in the way they played together, even in the last part of the season, that's what's fun about coaching," he said. "I know what we're doing is good, and I know that it's successful and I enjoyed the experience."