You have to love Jeff Van Gundy. Despite being unceremoniously booted by the Rockets in 2007, the ESPN analyst has been nothing but glowing in his praise of Houston’s NBA franchise ever since.
The former Rockets coach was on Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend’s show on 95.7 FM in San Francisco on Wednesday, and when asked for his picks for the playoffs and Finals, Van Gundy threw them a curveball (full audio — comments start at 10:45 mark).
“I love the Rockets (this year),” said Van Gundy. “I think the Rockets will come out and play in the Finals and I think the Rockets will win the championship.”
This brought out pure shock from the show hosts, both of whom quickly asked for clarification.
“I think they’re going to win it (all),” said Van Gundy. “I think (Miami) is great, but I really like Houston’s makeup.”
Van Gundy clarified that the Rockets have to “make steps defensively” but that the potential is all there to do that.
“Howard helps them with that [and] I love Beverley,” said Van Gundy. “I think he’ll set a great tone on the ball. So if you can defend the basket and the ball, I think you’ve got a great, great chance. I love their depth. I love Parsons, Harden.”
Van Gundy added that the power forward position could be an Achilles heel and that he wasn’t in love with that part of the lineup, but felt that Asik provides the team with a key trade piece to make a necessary improvement there.
“They don’t have a sure answer (at four) but they have that trade chip,” said Van Gundy. “I could see them (trading) Asik for a very good four-man, if they need to.”