Did Daryl Morey leave the Rockets because of Tilman Fertitta?

Daryl Morey Tilman Fertitta Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Daryl Morey Tilman Fertitta Houston Rockets (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

Daryl Morey’s decision to leave the Houston Rockets has led many in the national media to question whether Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta was the reason for Morey’s exit.

After Thursday’s surprising news of Daryl Morey’s departure from the Houston Rockets, it seems that Morey finally had enough of Tilman Fertitta’s cheap attitude towards the Rockets. There was speculation that Morey decided to step down because of the coaching situation, as the Rockets were in pursuit of their next head coach, following Mike D’Antoni’s decision to leave the franchise.

It had been reported that the Rockets had narrowed their coaching search down to Tyronn Lue and former Houston Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy, with Lue reportedly being the top option for the franchise. Lue withdrew his name from consideration, as he took the LA Clippers head coaching job instead.

Lue would have made for an expensive acquisition for Tilman Fertitta, as his Clippers contract was a five-year deal that’s believed to be worth $35 million. On the other hand, Van Gundy would have been much cheaper, which is likely the reason why Fertitta let the Clippers nab Lue.

As it turns out, losing out on Ty Lue was the last straw for Morey.

ESPN Sources: Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is stepping down. https://t.co/NTmplVtWcl

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 15, 2020

Although a head coach hasn’t been selected yet, it’s looking like Van Gundy or Stephen Silas of the Mavericks are the top candidates, as they both had second interviews with Fertitta.

It’s impossible to not make the connection between Morey stepping down and Fertitta’s unwillingness to spend big on quality acquisitions. Ever since the Russell Westbrook trade and the China fiasco, things were never the same between Fertitta and Morey, as it was pointed out on Friday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take.

ESPN’s Max Kellerman stated, “My gut tells me that Daryl Morey didn’t want to be there anymore, because I don’t think he wanted to work for Tilman Fertitta.”

This drew a response from Kellerman’s co-host Stephen A. Smith, who stated, “And I don’t think Fertitta wanted him there anymore.”

Morey and franchise star James Harden wanted former head coach Mike D’ Antoni to stay, which has left them looking for a clone of the former Houston Rockets head coach. But Fertitta wasn’t a fan of D’Antoni, as he simply inherited him, which could be another reason why Morey stepped down as the Rockets’ GM.

Speaking of Harden, the conversation must now shift towards him, as it was Morey who brought Harden to Houston. Morey’s departure could mean the end of the Harden era if the Rockets don’t hire John Lucas as the head coach, as Harden is reportedly pulling for Lucas to land the head coaching position.

The Rockets could possibly trade Harden, or he could force a trade out of Houston, but the reports following Morey’s resignation suggest that we aren’t at that stage yet. In fact, there have been rumors that the Rockets are seeking to add a star player to pair with Harden.

Houston Rockets are interested in trading for Philadelphia 76ers big man, Joel Embiid.

Hearing that everything is available except James Harden.

Will monitor. pic.twitter.com/szllhrjlEk

— ? Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson ? (@ScoopB) October 15, 2020

Although the Rockets are reportedly interested in acquiring Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers, we shouldn’t expect a trade, for a number of reasons.

Did Morey leave the Houston Rockets because of Tilman Fertitta?

There is actually a plus in all of this madness, because the relationship between Harden and Morey was insufferable. Although the pair was highly successful together, Morey and Harden still had their faults, including not reaching the NBA Finals after eight years together. Morey constantly tended to Harden’s needs, while the Rockets continued to disappoint in the playoffs.

For 13 seasons, Morey consistently guided the Rockets over .500, and he rebuilt the team after the Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming era. Now that Morey has left the Rockets, he could possibly go to the Eastern Conference, as Fertitta suggested.

Following Morey’s departure, the Houston Rockets announced that Rafael Stone will take over the GM position, and it’s safe to say that Stone has big shoes to fill.

The Houston Rockets under Daryl Morey:


Not one losing season in 13 years. Managed to rebuild after Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming without tanking.

— Salman Ali (@SalmanAliNBA) October 15, 2020

Stone has been with the franchise since 2005, which should instill confidence in the Houston Rockets fanbase. But Stone has immediate decisions to make, as the Rockets have to hire a head coach, while also adding the necessary championship pieces to round out the roster on a limited budget.

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But considering the guidance and tutelage that Stone attained under Morey, he’s more than ready for the job.