â€¢ HOUSTON - Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy was fired Friday, less than two weeks after Houston made yet another first-round playoff exit.
The Rockets went 52-30 this season but lost to Utah in seven games, raising the possibility Van Gundy was going to resign or be dismissed. This was the Rockets' third first-round loss in four seasons under Van Gundy.
Van Gundy had one nonguaranteed year left on his contract, meaning the team held the option to retain him. The team reportedly has contacted Rick Adelman, the former coach of Portland, Golden State and Sacramento.
"You're always disappointed when you're fired. It's difficult," Van Gundy said.
"...Obviously, they felt that they were better served going a different direction, which is well within their right," he said. "I both accept that and yet at the same time, respectfully disagree with that decision."
The firing comes days after 35-year-old general manager Daryl Morey took over for the retiring Carroll Dawson following the Rockets' playoff elimination.
"I was hopeful all the way up to last night they would change their mind," Van Gundy told Houston television station KRIV.
Morey said Van Gundy was given time to "evaluate his situation" with the understanding that the Rockets would begin looking for coaching candidates. By the time Van Gundy decided he wanted to be the coach and not a consultant, "we had already become positive about one alternative candidate," Morey said at a news conference. He wouldn't name the candidate.
"We have a very short list," said Morey, who wouldn't specify why Van Gundy was fired. "The details of who we're interviewing, we'll leave that to the resolution."
Van Gundy led the Rockets to a 182-146 record in four seasons. But Houston went 7-12 in three postseason appearances and more was expected from teams anchored by All-Stars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.
Wade focused on recovery
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â€¢ MIAMI - Heat guard Dwyane Wade is recovering from surgery this week on his left shoulder and knee, operations he opted to have the same day to speed up his return to the court.
"I decided to have both surgeries in one day so I could get the full rehab process started and return to the court as soon as possible," Wade said Friday in a statement. "I am feeling good, keeping my spirits up and looking forward to wearing a Heat uniform again soon."
Miami coach Pat Riley has said Wade - who averaged 27.4 points this past season - might need six months to recover from both surgeries.
Wade, who had the surgery Tuesday, was bothered by a condition commonly known as "jumper's knee," which he said limited his performance on the court. Wade also missed 23 games after dislocating his left shoulder in February.
Report: Mitchell agrees to return as Raptors coach
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â€¢ TORONTO - NBA Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell agreed to a new contract with the Toronto Raptors on Friday, The Canadian Press reported.
The Canadian Press, citing an unidentified source close to the negotiations, said the official announcement could come as early as Tuesday.
The 43-year-old Mitchell was selected the NBA Coach of the Year last month after leading the Raptors to a 47-35 record. He was 60-104 in his first two seasons with the Raptors. His contract was set to expire June 30.
James says pregnant girlfriend is fine
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â€¢ EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - LeBron James said his pregnant girlfriend was fine Friday, two days after she was taken to the hospital during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Cleveland.
Savannah Brinson, expecting the couple's second child next month, left Wednesday night's game at halftime. James said he was told of her situation and was "a little concerned, of course," and was updated throughout the game.
"You always want your family to be protected, you want them to be fine," James said before Game 6 of the series. "They ensured me that she was OK so I believed what I heard."
Neither James nor the Cavs have said what was wrong.
Coach Mike Brown said he visited the hospital after the game, but left all questions for James. James also said his knee was a "hundred percent" after he was forced to leave Game 5 in the final minute after banging and cutting his knee while chasing a loose ball.