There have been rumors bouncing around the NBA’s chattering class that Daryl Morey may be in trouble as the Houston general manager going back to before his infamous Hong Kong protestors Tweet and the drama that followed. There was a sense Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta and Morey were not on the same page.
While coach Mike D’Antoni is very likely walking out the door, Morey will be back, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Small ball will be back, too.
High-ranking Rockets’ sources dismiss those rumors, saying that Fertitta fully intends to keep Morey.
Houston’s commitment to playing a historically small lineup will almost certainly continue next season — with or without D’Antoni roaming the sideline.
Houston may stick with small ball for two reasons. First, James Harden likes it and wants to play this way.
“We never really gave ourselves a chance,” Harden said of why the Rockets’ small-ball lost to the Lakers. “That’s rebounding, our switches, our offensive movement. That’s on us. If we’d given ourselves a chance and they beat us, we might have needed to switch it up.”
Second, it’s going to be very difficult for Houston to make radical changes to the roster. When the Rockets traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook last summer (sending two first-round picks to OKC in the deal) they locked themselves into Westbrook, who will make $132.5 million guaranteed over the next three years. The Rockets will pay the trio of Harden, Westbrook, and Eric Gordon $98.6 million next season, $106.8 million the following season, and $113.9 million in the three years. Just those three guys. That’s tough to get away from.
Whoever the next coach of the Rockets will be — Jeff Van Gundy is the most mentioned name, but there will be others — that person will have to embrace playing small. And fast.
And they will have to get along with Daryl Morey, who will still be GM of the Rockets.