Mike D'Antoni tells Houston Rockets he won't return as coach

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida -- Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni has informed the franchise's ownership that he's becoming a free agent and won't return to the Rockets next season.

D'Antoni, whose contract expired with the end of Houston's season in the Western Conference semifinals on Saturday, turned down extension offers prior to the season.



The coach's departure, first reported by ESPN, won't likely be for long. D'Antoni will be considered among a group of candidates for the Philadelphia 76ers coaching opening, ESPN reported.

D'Antoni and his wife, Laurel, released a statement Sunday about the decision to step down.

"Our time here was among the most memorable experiences of our lives. From the dear friends we've made, the incredible partnerships with civic minded-leaders and city officials, to the wonderful nonprofits and the clients they serve, Laurel and I will be forever indebted to this community for embracing our family," the D'Antonis said.

D'Antoni was 217-102 in his four seasons as Rockets coach, advancing once to the Western Conference finals and three times to the conference semifinals. D'Antoni, a two-time NBA Coach of the Year, led the Rockets to the highest winning percentage in the Western Conference over the past four years (.682), trailing only the Toronto Raptors (.695) in the entire league.
Only the Golden State Warriors (46), Boston Celtics (33), and Raptors (31) have more playoff victories than the Rockets (28) in D'Antoni's four-year run in Houston.

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