HOUSTON (AP) — Houston coach Kevin McHale has rejoined the Rockets after almost a month away from the team, and two weeks after the death of his daughter.
McHale took a leave of absence on Nov. 10 to be with his family as his daughter's health worsened. Alexandra "Sasha" McHale died Nov. 24 of complications from Lupus. She was 23.
"It's been a while," he said. "Hopefully it's the right time. I don't know there ever is a right time. I don't know if there is a playbook about this, but I'm excited to be back."
McHale will coach the Rockets on Saturday night against the Mavericks.
Houston went 7-6 under interim coach Kelvin Sampson while McHale was out.
McHale said he spoke with Sampson daily, watched each game and tried to stay plugged into the team as much as he could while he was away.
"It was hard. I don't want to get into the whole thing, but it was hard because your mind is a million miles away, but yet you're still watching games and you're still pulling for the guys so hard and you want them to win," he said. "A lot of times that hour of the day (talking to Sampson) was sometimes the best part of the day."
The second-year coach and Hall of Fame player complimented the job Sampson and the rest of the staff did while he was out. He said he felt bad that he had to leave this young team, which was trying to fit new pieces together, just when the season was starting.