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Houston Rockets Announce Two Additions to Coaching Staff

The Houston Rockets head-coach Kevin McHale filled out most of the reaming positions among his coaching staff on Tuesday, reaching an agreement in principle with Bucks

Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

assistant coach Kelvin Sampson to be a lead assistant, and with J.B. Bickerstaff to join Chris Finch as an assistant coach. Sampson had been an assistant coach in Milwaukee since 2008, after leaving college coaching positions at Oklahoma and Indiana under NCAA scrutiny. Bickerstaff has been an assistant in Minnesota the past fours season, working with McHale during his tenure with the Timberwolves.

McHale was hired June 1st to replace Rick Adelman, who parted ways with the team after four seasons. Sampson and Bickerstaff will join McHale once the teams get back to work, according to multiple reports.

Bickerstaff’s father Bernie has been a head coach of four NBA teams and is currently on the Trail Blazers staff. The Timberwolves have asker permission to interview Bernie Bickerstaff for their head coaching position after firing Kurt Rambis, prompting speculation that J.B. could be groomed to succeed his father. Instead, J.B. elected to leave Minnesota to join the Houston staff.

Sampson worked as a collegiate coach from 1979-2008, but his problems with the NCAA will likely keep him from returning to the college ranks. Oklahoma had eight consecutive 20-win seasons under Sampson, and he was named the NABC national coach of the year after leading the Sooners to the 2002 Final Four. But the program was later placed on probation for major rules violations involving more than 500 impermissible recruiting phone calls Sampson made between 2000-2004.

Indiana hired Sampson in March 2006, despite the ongoing NCAA investigation at Oklahoma. In October 2007, Indiana self-reported that Sampson had made more impermissible phone calls to recruits, and in February 2008, the NCAA informed Indiana that Sampson had committed five major rules violations. Sampson then subsequently agreed to a contract buyout.

Read more on the hire here.

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