NBA Rumor: Rockets Front Office

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And besides, many days Morey didn’t need a car at all. Another employee, general counsel Rafael Stone, lived nearby and was happy to drive Morey to work. Morey and Stone got along fine. One Rockets employee at the time remembers them as “best friends.” In a recent Zoom press conference, Stone made a passing comment about Morey damaging his dash board with a foot on a morning commute. “Daryl and I are extremely different people,” Stone added. “We worked well together and became friends because we’re from very different perspectives but oftentimes ended up at the exact same point.”

He loved basketball, both playing and watching his hometown Sonics. He took the craft seriously but he spent most of his free time studying for his LSATs. He applied to the law schools at Harvard, Stanford, and Yale “because he wanted to get into the three best ones,” says Andre Burrell, another former roommate and longtime friend. All three schools accepted Stone. He chose Stanford. From there he landed a job at the New York City-based corporate law firm Dewey Ballantine.

In the 2019-2020 season, Stone began occasionally interrupting coaches on the court before and after practices as they worked with players on skill development, something rare among executives, especially ones who aren’t former coaches or players. Larry Bird or Michael Jordan offering thoughts is one thing. But the team lawyer and a former Division III point guard? A man who, despite his years spent working unofficially at executive level of basketball operations, was barely around players and coaches?

Finally, at the end of November, sources say, they got the phone call from Stone saying they were out, effective immediately. It was too late to find jobs on other teams. But it was early for another deadline: If Stone had called on December 1, the team would have covered their health insurance for another month. It was quite possibly a coincidence, one source says the team didn’t consider health insurance at all. Whatever the thinking, the Rockets have become a place where employees expect bosses to be strategic in finding little edges. One former coach cites examples like this when he says he wouldn’t work for the Rockets if you offered him $10 million a year.

Q: You are over the cap but have a mid-level exception. If it works out, or just in general philosophically, would it be better for this team to use that exception on the best one player you can get or to spread it around with several players to help with depth? Rafael Stone: It depends entirely on what we think we can do with our minimum exception. We think we can bring in guys that can be very helpful there. That’s a way of getting depth. And, is there a guy we think we can get at mid-level we think is really good value? If that’s the case, we’re just going to do it, period. It’s all about talent. If we think a guy is better than the market thinks he is, we’re going to want to go get that guy. Mid-level is the best tool we have. We’re just going to be aggressive to try to get talent. Last year, we used it for Danuel House. We didn’t use all of it in that situation. It’s largely based on the market.

Q: You spoke at the press conference about the lack of a mandate to avoid the luxury tax. Do you consider it inevitable that this is the year you do spend luxury tax or are there still the sort of maneuverability benefits you described to avoiding it? Rafael Stone: There are perhaps benefits to avoid it, but we’re planning to be in it. We were planning to be in it two years ago and I think last year. A lot of this is just what happens circumstantially there. There was a deal we for sure would have done last year at the trade deadline that would have had us well, well over the tax line. A team called and we said ‘yes.’ They chose not to do it. It’s not the cash-based decision people think it is. It is more the framework for how you build your roster. That’s still where we are. We’re certainly planning to be in the luxury tax this year. If a great deal appears and we end up shedding salary, we’d do that deal and then probably try to re-spend the salary. There’s no pressure whatsoever to not be in, but real pressure to win.

Fertitta said Morey warned him in March 2019 — when the GM signed a five-year contract extension — that this could be a year when he decided to step away because of his son’s high school graduation. “He had always said, ‘I’m not going to be here forever,’ and, ‘At some point, I might want to go back to the East Coast,'” Fertitta said. “I didn’t think it was going to happen. I knew that this was that year, but Daryl’s been here [almost] 15 years. I was surprised, but yet I remembered the previous conversations. He’s reminded me of that a few times.”
4 months ago via ESPN

Tim MacMahon on Daryl Morey stepping down: Well, this was not Tilman Fertitta his decision. This was initiated by Daryl Morey and they came to an agreement. You know, there was obviously speculation around the league since the freedom for Hong Kong tweet that Daryl Morey was going to be gone. And that situation, it did not push Tilman Fertitta to make this decision because again, this was not Tillman pushing out Daryl Morey, but Darrell saying hey, I want to step away and then come into an agreement. I do think talking to some people with Rockets that just the kind of the different sort of scrutiny that came with that and and the… I don’t know if guilt is the right word or pressure that that came with costing not just Tilman Fertitta dozens of millions of dollars, but the NBA as a whole hundreds of millions of dollars… I think that weighed on Daryl

Morey’s resignation will be effective on Nov. 1, the team announced Thursday, as he will continue to assist owner Tilman Fertitta and the Rockets’ front office in the franchise’s search for a new head coach. “For me, it was just a great run,” Morey told ESPN on Thursday night in a telephone conversation that also included Fertitta. “Personally, the timing worked for me. My youngest son just graduated from high school, and it was just the right time to see what’s next with family and other potential things in the future. It just felt like the right time.”

Mark Berman: Daryl Morey (@Daryl Morey) on his decision to step down as the #Rockets GM: “I just felt it was a great run and the right time. My youngest was graduating from Kinkaid. I just thought it was time to be with family and see what new challenges might be out there. I do love sports….”


Looking for someone to add below Brand isn’t surprising to league sources, who always questioned ownership’s seriousness in regard to giving up its control to a team president. However, it will be interesting to see if the Sixers make a run at Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for that job. League sources think he could soon be in the market for another job, even though Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said Morey’s job is safe following the team’s second-round playoff elimination.

Daryl Morey not in the hot seat for Hong Kong tweet

The topic of the Hong Kong tweet has come up again lately. The President brought it up. It came up on your CNBC interview. What would you want people to know about your position about that issue? Tilman Fertitta: “The tweet was seven words. There was nothing wrong with the tweet. That’s why one hour later I told ESPN when I was asked ‘Are you going to get rid of Daryl Morey,’ I was like, ‘Are you crazy? Why would I get rid of Daryl for that tweet?’ I think Daryl’s one of the best general managers in the league. Plus, we truly enjoy working with each other. To this day, we plan on working with each other and I expect Daryl to be here for years to come.”

The Houston Rockets are one of the most advanced statistic-reliant teams in the NBA, and their old head coach thinks it is somewhat to their detriment. In an interview this week on ESPN 97.5 in Houston, Kevin McHale took a bit of a shot at his former squad over their fervent belief in analytics. “You guys are caught up a little bit in Houston on numbers,” said McHale. “Numbers do not win games. The one number that wins the game is if you have one more point than the other team. That’s the biggest number. But numbers don’t win games.”

Morey has put together all the pieces — starting with trading Chris Paul for Westbrook during the offseason — and all he can do now is wait and see what happens. The Rockets are all in on small ball. The style will be called gimmicky, crazy, genius and everything in between. “It’s definitely a talking point,” Morey said. “But that’s who we are now. “My job is to win and we are always going to chase whatever gives us the best chance to win.

There’s still great uncertainty about the effects on league business, from the impact on salary-cap projections to the probability that the NBA can fully restore its relationships with Chinese broadcasters and corporate partners. Does the NBA have a shot of returning in the foreseeable future to China, where it has played preseason games in every non-lockout season since 2007? No team has felt the brunt of the fallout more than the Rockets. League sources say the franchise has lost more than $7 million in revenue this season from cancelled Chinese sponsorship agreements and nearly $20 million overall when terminated multiyear deals are calculated.

The Rockets do not plan to discipline Morey, according to one person with knowledge of the ownership’s thinking who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly. Yet it remains to be seen how much Morey’s apology will mollify the fans and various entities in China that expressed such loud dismay about Morey’s original Twitter post, in which he shared an image that read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” — referencing the protests that have raged for months. The slogan is commonly chanted at demonstrations and has been spray-painted throughout the city.

Daryl Morey explains Hong Kong tweet

Daryl Morey: I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.

Daryl Morey has green light to pay luxury tax

Jonathan Feigen: Never rule out a bold move, but the most likely avenues are with the mid-level exception and minimum contracts. They could have as much as $9 million of mid-level money to spend, though given what that would take under CBA rules and the roster constraints that would bring, it is much more likely they operate with the $5.7 million exception. Though spending the exception money would push the Rockets back into the luxury tax, general manager Daryl Morey has already been given a green light to pay the tax, a person with knowledge of the team’s planning said.

Morey, 46, had been in the final year of his contract in the second season with Tilman Fetitta owning the team. “I’m super happy,” Morey said. “I’d love to be with the Rockets for life. This obviously solidifies us for a little while. I’m just really thankful to Tilman Fertitta for having the faith in our team. And really, it is about us having a team of people that makes this all work; Coach (Mike) D’Antoni, (vice president) Keith Jones, (vice president) Gersson Rosas, (trainer) Jason Biles, (assistant general manager) Monte McNair, (assistant general manager) Eli Witus, (assistant general manager, Vipers GM) Jimmy Paulis. “We have too many people to mention, but I’m only as good as the people behind me.”

The Rockets picked up their option on the final season of D’Antoni’s contract, keeping him under contract through the 2019-20 season. But Morey said he would like to work on an extension for D’Antoni in the offseason. “He’s such a critical factor,” Morey said. “Speaking for myself only, I would love for him to be here for as long as he wants to be here. He’s so critical to everything we’re doing here. Hopefully, that’s something we can work out at the right time. I think the right thing for everyone is those things are done in the off-season.”

So to that point, we’re about a month from that (trade) deadline. What kind of outlook do you have when it comes to how active you might be? Daryl Morey: Yeah, we’re for now (in terms of their mentality). So what do they say — buyers vs. sellers? We’re definitely a buyer. …I think we’ve been trying to win the title for a while, and we had a couple years before we got James where we probably didn’t have as much of a chance to win, where we were probably a little more future focused. But since James has been here we’ve been buyers at the deadline and hopefully something comes along that we think can help our chances to win the title. We’ve had a few years where we don’t, so we don’t force it, but we’re going to be looking for something to hopefully upgrade the team.

Rockets looking for wings?

Houston is primarily focused on acquiring wing talent, sources said. Their trade market intensity last week, in the midst of their winning streak, was described by one source as “not in emergency mode, but not sitting back either.” In regards to Washington, Markieff Morris, Jeff Green and Kelly Oubre Jr. would fit the bill here. Morris and Green put on a rather impressive audition for Daryl Morey, who attended the game in D.C. The salaries are doable from a trade standpoint, around $9 million for Morris and $2.3 million for Green.
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February 25, 2021 | 8:41 pm EST Update
James Dolan couldn’t take the joke and his anger went all the way to the top. The Knicks owner complained to NBA commissioner Adam Silver about a 2018 episode of “Game of Zones,” an animated web series that poked fun of various NBA teams and characters, according to the show’s co-creator, Adam Malamut. Dolan’s complaints also reached David Levy, the former president of Turner, but were brushed aside, according to Malamut, who implied that Dolan’s hothead reputation made him easy to ignore.
“The league is cool with (Game of Zones). But technically they work for the owners and technically they had to let us know Dolan wasn’t cool with it,” Malamut said on the podcast ‘Rejecting the Screen’ with hosts Adam Stanco and Noah Coslov. “But everyone else was like, ‘That’s just this particular guy (Dolan), he’s a little fussy.’”
Storyline: Game of Zones