Smith played six seasons for the Rockets and won titles with the team in 1994 and '95. He has a good relationship with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander.
"Some of the information is sensitive when you're talking to a team," Smith said from Oakland, California, on TNT, site of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals. "We met, but after we met, I had great talks with Les Alexander afterwards for a couple of days, and we corresponded."
The team was impressed with Smith during the interview process and believes he'll become a head coach one day, the source told Watkins, but the Rockets want a head coach with experience. Smith hasn't held a head-coaching job at the professional or collegiate level.
"The Rockets have a philosophy of what they think their coach should be," Smith said in the TNT broadcast. "But right now I'm here, and it looks like I'm going to be here."
The Rockets fired Kevin McHale 11 games into the season and replaced him on an interim basis with Houston assistant J.B. Bickerstaff. The Rockets finished 41-41 and were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, despite Stephen Curry injuring his knee and missing three of five games.
The Rockets are in the process of getting to the finalist stage of their search. They have interviewed David Blatt, Sam Cassell, Chris Finch, Mike D'Antoni, Bickerstaff, Jeff Hornacek and Smith. Bickerstaff pulled his name from consideration.