Just a couple of days after former head coach Mike D’Antoni announced that he would not be returning to the team next season, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta confirmed that general manager Daryl Morey will be back. There has long been speculation that Fertitta would move on from Morey at the end of the 2019-20 season, but Morey will return and lead the franchise’s search for D’Antoni’s replacement.
On CNBC, Fertitta said:
“Daryl Morey’s job is safe, and I’m sure he’s going to pick the right head coach.”
The Houston Rockets were eliminated in five games on the second round of the Western Conference playoffs over the weekend. D’Antoni decided against returning for another season, as his contract expired following Saturday’s Game 5 defeat. Contract negotiations between D’Antoni and the Rockets broke down last summer, and D’Antoni will likely be a candidate for several different job openings before the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign.
Tilman Fertitta confirms Daryl Morey will continue as Rockets general manager
Morey will lead the team’s head coaching search ahead of next season
Lue (+300), Cassell (+400) favored to replace D’Antoni on Houston’s sidelines
Morey’s Impressive Track Record
Morey got himself into a bit of hot water with the NBA after a tweet about Hong Kong last October messed with the league’s relationship with China. That tweet, which was a pro-Democracy tweet, cost the NBA and the Rockets millions of dollars in sponsorship revenue. Fertitta has said that he has remained loyal to Morey, even calling him the “best general manager in the league” on more than one occasion.
Morey has been in the job since the 2007-08 season, when he was hired away from the Boston Celtics’ front office. The Rockets have not had a single losing season during Morey’s tenure in the front office, and he has been a driving force in the way the league as a whole has shifted its offensive style.
Houston has qualified for the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons, though the team has not yet advanced past the Western Conference Finals. Morey signed a five-year contract extension in March of 2019.
Morey to Lead Coaching Search
The next coach will be the fourth head coach to be hired by Morey, but the first since Fertitta purchased the team from ex-owner Leslie Alexander prior to the 2018-19 campaign. Fertitta says Morey will be the driving force in the decision-making process when it comes to the next head coach.
Fertitta said, “I personally wouldn’t know what coach to hire. That’s why you have a basketball operations team made up of a half-dozen people that use all sorts of analytics and experience. They’ll make a recommendation to me. I’m the sign-off guy.”
Lue, Cassell Leading Candidates
Shortly after news broke regarding D’Antoni’s decision, Shams Charania reported that former Rockets guard and current LA Clippers assistant Sam Cassell is a candidate to get the job. Cassell has never been a head coach in the NBA, but he has served as an assistant with the Clippers and Washington Wizards since 2009.
While Cassell is a clear candidate, BetOnline’s latest odds have another Clippers assistant, Tyronn Lue, as the most likely person to be patrolling the Rockets’ sidelines next season:
Tyronn Lue: +300
Sam Cassell: +400
Jeff Van Gundy: +500
Nate McMillan: +500
Stan Van Gundy: +500
Brett Brown: +600
Kenny Atkinson: +800
Jason Kidd: +900
Chauncey Billups: +1000
Ime Udoka: +1200
Billy Donovan: +1400
Wes Unseld Jr.: +1600
Jeff Van Gundy, who has served as a commentator for ESPN since being fired by the Rockets in 2007, still lives in Houston and has expressed interest in returning to the job in the past. Nate McMillan and Kenny Atkinson, who were recently fired by the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets, respectively, are likely candidates to attract attention on the coaching market, as well.
D’Antoni To Attract Interest
As for D’Antoni, he is expected to receive interest from a number of different teams. The Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, and Oklahoma City Thunder all currently have vacancies at the head coaching position. BetOnline has listed D’Antoni among the potential candidates for every single opening:
Chicago Bulls: +500
Philadelphia 76ers: +400
New Orleans Pelicans: +400
Indiana Pacers: +350
Oklahoma City Thunder: +400
D’Antoni coached the Rockets from 2016 until 2020, and he earned Coach of the Year honors after leading Houston to the NBA’s best regular-season record in 2017. In addition to his time with the Rockets, D’Antoni has also held NBA head coaching positions with the Nuggets, Suns, Knicks, and Lakers.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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