Although Houston Rockets’ fans were stunned by the news of Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s decision to leave the team, several around the league knew about the move beforehand.
The Houston Rockets fanbase received a jarring and unexpected blow on Thursday, as Rockets GM Daryl Morey abruptly announced that he was stepping down from his post. Morey is arguably the best general manager in the league, and he took home the Executive of the Year award in 2016-17, which was the first season after Dwight Howard exercised his player option and left the team.
Morey had just wrapped up the 2020 playoffs, which he spent with the Houston Rockets in Orlando, the site of the NBA’s bubble. Morey was also spearing the Rockets’ search for a head coach, as Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta stated that he was giving Morey the freedom and autonomy to make the right hire as it pertains to selecting the team’s next coach.
This coaching hire is an important one, as the next coach will be essentially responsible for the remaining peak years of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The Rockets have held interviews with Kenny Atkinson, Stephen Silas, David Vanterpool, Tyronn Lue, and Jeff Van Gundy, which is par for the course for Morey, who is known for casting a wide net in his coaching searches.
But with the surprising news of Morey not being with the team beyond November 1st, one would think the Rockets’ coaching job would naturally lose it’s luster to prospective coaches, right? Well, as it turns out, Thursday’s news wasn’t much of a surprise to those who have interviewed for the Rockets job, as explained by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on SportsCenter.
“He’s been meeting and talking with candidates and candidates started to become aware of his decision that he was going to step down.”
Houston Rockets’ Morey notified prospective coaches of decision to step down
This is a classy move by Morey to give coaches a heads up, as he certainly didn’t have to do that. It also shows the character of Morey, as would be quite a surprise to interview for a position, which partially holds intrigue because of Morey’s brilliance and creative ability to work deals to add to the roster, only to find out upon accepting the job (or thereafter) that one of the top executives wouldn’t be sticking around.
Wojnarowski’s report was also corroborated by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, as Feigen’s comments are provided below.
“Though Morey did not make his decision to step down public until Thursday and has been involved in the interviews with candidates, each of the coaches had been informed throughout the process that Morey expected to leave the team at some point this offseason.”
This almost certainly means Morey notified the players of his decision to leave before the news leaked to the media, much like Mike D’Antoni, who did the same thing following the Rockets’ season-ending defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Morey will be replaced by Rafael Stone, who has been with the Rockets since 2005, which is longer than Morey’s tenure with the organization. Stone will be tasked with steering the ship moving forward, which should be viewed as a positive, considering the amount of time he worked under Morey.