Less than two months after retiring from his long coaching career, it appears Jeff Bzdelik is ready to get back into the NBA ranks again.
According to multiple reports, the Houston Rockets and Bzdelik are set to reunite soon. Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle -- who first reported the news -- his return is expected to be at least a week or several weeks away. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports Bzdelik has agreed to a deal for the rest of 2018-19, but won't be back to coach until near the end of the month.
However, Wojnarowski reports that Bzdelik will make an appearance for a brief time with the Rockets before then. Here's more from Feigen on the deal Bzdelik and the Rockets have agreed to:
Jeff Bzdelik, the associate head coach that led the Rockets' defensive success last season before he abruptly retired before training camp, on Monday agreed to return to the team, two individuals with knowledge of the deal said.
Bzdelik agreed to a contract for the remainder of the season to be back in the same role. It is undetermined when he will be back in a full-time capacity, with possibilities that he could return next week or sometime by the end of November, one of the individuals with knowledge of the agreement said.
Bzdelik's return is not related to the Rockets' slow start, that individual said. He had chosen to step aside to address something unrelated to work that now allows him return. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta had been in frequent contact with Bzdelik since the decision to retire.
Bzdelik has agreed to a deal for rest of the season, but won’t return full-time to Rockets until near the end of the month, league source tells ESPN. He will make an appearance for a brief time with group before then. https://t.co/Nm0lpwpP2L— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 5, 2018
Mark Berman of KRIV in Houston reports Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta said he's excited about the return of Bzdelik.
"We're excited to have Jeff back," Fertitta said. "He's one of the great defensive coaches.We worked on him and I think the team is excited to get him back.
"We have one of the greatest offensive minds n the league with coach [Mike] D'Antoni, but you need a defensive coordinator just like you do in football. Together they put together a 65-win team last year. I think he's one of the big pieces that was missing."
#Rockets owner @TilmanJFertitta says Jeff Bzdelik, the team's associate head coach last 2 years,is returning after stepping away from the game: "We're excited to have Jeff back.He's one of the great defensive coaches.We worked on him & I think the team is excited to get him back"— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 5, 2018
.@TilmanJFertitta on Jeff Bzdelik returning:"We have 1 of the greatest offensive minds n the league w/ Coach D'Antoni but u need a defensive coordinator just like u do n football.Together they put together a 65-win team last year.I think he's 1 of the big pieces that was missing"— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) November 5, 2018
Defense has been an issue for the Rockets all season, as they rank 21st in Defensive Rating, 23rd in defensive rebound percentage and 28th in opponent points in the paint allowed. The 65-year-old Bzdelik had been with the Rockets since 2016, but announced his retirement in mid-September.
The Illinois native first broke into the NBA assistant coaching ranks with the Washington Bullets in 1988. He coached the Nuggets from 2 1/2 seasons, from 2002-05, amassing a 73-119 while leading Denver to the 2004 playoffs. He also spent time in various coaching roles with the New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies.
Bzdelik went 162-181 in 11 seasons as a collegiate coach, spending time at Maryland-Baltimore County, Colorado, Air Force and Wake Forest. He made the NCAA Tournament once as a college coach, but his Air Force team lost in the first round to Illinois in 2006.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.