The Rockets are planning to promote Executive VP of Basketball Operations Rafael Stone to general manager, sources said. Stone has played a significant part in the Rockets’ team building throughout his tenure with the organization. https://t.co/SmBlhaCIu8
According to Wojnarowski, Morey approached Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta about leaving shortly after the team was eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA playoffs last month. The two sides have reportedly been working on an exit agreement for the past several weeks.
Morey’s Successful Run
Morey has been in this job since he was hired away from the Boston Celtics back in 2007. He reportedly isn’t ruling out a potential return to another front office at some point, but he is reportedly interested in pursuing other professional interests.
Morey has agreed to remain on in an advisory role while the Rockets go through the hiring process for their next head coach. Mike D’Antoni announced that he would not return to the team just a couple of days after their aforementioned elimination at the hands of the Lakers in September.
Houston plans to promote Rafael Stone into Morey’s vacated general manager’s position. Stone has been serving as the executive vice president of basketball operations under Morey, and he has reportedly had a significant hand in Houston’s recent roster-building over the past several years. Eli Witus will also be promoted to assistant GM.
Morey has led the Rockets to eight consecutive playoff appearances, which is the longest active streak in the NBA. Houston has advanced beyond the first round in each of the last four years, as well.
However, Morey ultimately came up short in his quest to lead the Rockets to their first championship since 1995. He started his tenure with the team during the height of the Yao Ming/Tracy McGrady partnership, and he spent the last decade or so trying to find the right co-star to pair with James Harden.
Morey has been one of the most successful general managers in the league for years, but his job came under scrutiny last year when his pro-Hong Kong Twitter post led to China yanking NBA games off of their airwaves and suspending endorsement deals with the league.
Fertitta and NBA commissioner Adam Silver both threw their support behind Morey, with Fertitta insisting just last month that Morey’s job was safe. China ultimately decided to start broadcasting NBA games again when the NBA Finals began.
Silver estimated that Morey’s tweet wound up costing the NBA around $400 million in revenue, while Fertitta and the Rockets also lost quite a bit of money. Fertitta insisted that Morey was “the best general manager in the league” and that he would have full say in the Rockets’ decision when it came to their next head coach.
Rockets’ Coaching Search Continues
Earlier this week, ESPN reported that Clippers assistant Ty Lue and current ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy were among those that have been interviewed for the head coaching position.
The Rockets had the second-best regular-season record in the NBA over the course of Morey’s 13 seasons in the front office. He signed a five-year contract extension in March of 2019.
Stone has been involved as the Rockets’ general counsel since 2005. He became the executive VP of basketball operations in April of last year right before his predecessor, Gersson Rosas, was hired to become the GM of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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