Rockets Rumors: D’Antoni, Luxury Tax, Gordon

After promising in the wake of the Rockets‘ elimination from the postseason last weekend to upgrade the team’s roster this summer, owner Tilman Fertitta addressed the upcoming offseason more extensively in a conversation with Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle this week.

Before digging into Houston’s roster or offseason plans, Fertitta made it clear that Mike D’Antoni will return for the 2019/20 season, which will represent the last year of his four-year contract with the club. Typically, an NBA team will sign its head coach to an extension rather than let him enter the final year of his deal as a “lame duck.” Fertitta tells Feigen that while he’s not beholden to that concept, he’s certainly not opposed to the idea and plans to meet with D’Antoni in the coming weeks.

“He’s not a lame duck to me. That’s just a media term. That’s just a media buzzword,” Fertitta said. “Mike is going to be 69 years old (next May) and Mike doesn’t know totally what he wants to do, yet. We’ll sit down with Mike in the next few weeks and talk with him.

“We’re more concerned with making our team better next year. Mike will be here. I like Mike. I think he’s a very good coach. Players like playing for him. I keep being told, free agents want to know who the owner is and they want to know who the coach is. Mike and I do well together. Hopefully, we’ll continue to win and Mike will be here for a long time.”

Here’s more from Fertitta on the Rockets:

  • While Fertitta indicates that he’d welcome back the Rockets’ starting lineup, he’s also open to a more “dramatic retooling” and likely won’t enter the offseason with a run-it-back mentality, writes Feigen. “I’ve directed my people to get better next year — anything we can do, from ownership to conditioning and training, all the way to that level,” Fertitta said. “If we can make our team better player-wise, we’re going to make our team better. If we can make our team better coaching-wise, we’ll make our team better.”
  • Fertitta made it clear that he has high expectations for the franchise: “We’re here to win. We’re not here to be just OK and make it to the playoffs. We’re going to do whatever it takes to be a championship style team every year. I will make moves to always extend our runway. I’m not a rebuilding guy to go collapse for three years to get draft picks. I want to keep us at as high a level as we can. I have a good management team. We’re in the City of Houston, which is soon to be the third-largest city in the United States so we should always attract our good share of free agents.”
  • The Rockets’ owner strongly pushed back against the idea that he directed the team to get out of luxury-tax territory in 2018/19, calling it an “accident” and telling Feigen that he’s “still trying to figure out” how they got under the tax line. “I spend more money on little things than anybody else,” Fertitta said. “I just bought us a brand-new 767 that we’re re-fitting right now. Everybody else just rents planes. I want our players on our plane. And it’s not a 757; it’s a 767. Anybody can have an opinion. You can say I’m a lousy owner. But don’t make a statement when you don’t have any (…) idea what you’re talking about.” Despite Fertitta’s fervent denials, it’s hard to see why the Rockets’ front office would make multiple cost-cutting moves if team ownership was entirely unconcerned with ending up in the tax.
  • Fertitta would have interest in signing Eric Gordon to a long-term extension this summer, Feigen writes.
  • More from Fertitta on his vision for the organization, via Feigen: “I want us to be tough. I never want to be soft. I don’t like soft ownership and I don’t like soft teams. That’s not my culture. I do want my players scrambling for a loose ball. I’ll set a hard pick in business. I’ll scramble on the floor for a ball in business. I expect them to do it on the court. I’m not saying they don’t. I have a very hard-playing team. But we’re never going to be soft.”
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36 thoughts on “Rockets Rumors: D’Antoni, Luxury Tax, Gordon

  1. Codeeg

    I like Fertitta and think he’s doing a fine job as owner, I just think he’s obviously a little defensive to the criticism. I don’t think not giving Ariza a $16M contract was a mistake tho but that’s only because for the type of player he is they should’ve been able to replace him for that.

  2. johnstodder

    Shouldn’t the Rockets try to trade Chris Paul to the Lakers, who might be willing to take him on in order to optimize LeBron’s remaining two years? Combining this year’s #4 pick (which they could then trade) with some combination of Ingram, Kuzma, Ball and Hart (pick 2), would set them up to compete next season, but get out from under the ugly years of Paul’s deal?

          • johnstodder

            It was a crazy move without a partner who could help LeBron win now. There’s no reason to sign him otherwise — well I guess “ratings” are a reason. But basketball-wise, LeBron doesn’t want some 4th round pick learning the game on his time. He wants a shot to win in 2020 or else everyone has wasted their time. I’m not a fan of the Lakers or the move. But “in for a penny, in for a pound.” The Lakers have to mortgage the future. If Davis is out of reach, they should try to get Paul, Connelly or even Black Griffin. Target a team with a big contract that wants out. That’s who the Lakers can get, and it could maybe work.

            • knickscavsfan

              It wasn’t a crazy move. They signed LBJ and then attempted to sign others. They failed in that pursuit by why in the world would’ve they’ve committed to other players before signing the best player in the game? Not like you can “bundle” them together.

        • knickscavsfan

          In case you’re referring to LBJ I wouldn’t call it a declining year. He had an injury that any player could get. His offensive numbers were instep with his two previous years.

    • victorg

      I think that is the smart move … help LeBron think that his best move is to pout and force his way to a cp3 trade BUT something tells me Magic is gone because the lakers organization is not going to let LBJ run it like he did the CAVS. so in the end the rockets are tied to CP3 the outbid themselves to keep him and that’s it they had to give up a first rounder to get out of that horrible Anderson contract they will have to give up two first rounders to get out from under CP3.. you just have to hope if you are the rockets that he decides to get himself into the best shape possible but to me CP3 , Melo, Harden , lowry those are players who always just kind of got by a few xtra lbs over what they should be you look at guys like Duncan,KG,Stockton,D Wilkins they played so long because they lost weight as they got older to help their bodies.

      • Jason Lancaster

        I’m pretty sure Utah, Indiana, Minnesota, Miami, and potentially Charlotte (if they’re going to lose Walker) would have interest in Paul. He’s not the player he used to be, but he’s still quite good, and he’ll sell tickets.

        Indiana could sign and trade Collison plus Bogdonavic and basically get Paul for nothing. Win win, assuming it puts Indiana into contention in the East. And Paul plus Oladipo seems like a great backcourt for a season or two.

  3. antsmith7

    The Rockets has a terrible offseason which came back to haunt them. Last year is when this team peaked and they blew it by missing 27 straight 3’s.

  4. Ben Simmons and some extra for Harden. Harris and/or Butler walk. You get a shooter who can handle the ball. Rockets get a slasher who can roll off picks and get passes from CP3. Think Nash and skinnier Amaré. Houston is stuck on win now mode because of Harden but they can’t get over the hump. Get some young pieces and start a quick rebuild.

    • Jason Lancaster

      That would be the second time someone foolishly trades Harden. Bad idea.

      • I wouldn’t recommend it either, but they are stuck. They can’t even lock up Coach D because nobody knows how much longer he’s going to coach. CP3 could be soon out. The window is small. Just putting it out there that they could get more for Harden now then CP3. Harden to Knicks and Houston gets back pick and extra and Knicks get Harden and sign a top FA. Harden goes east and Houston can sign someone and get a top rookie. It would be dumb of Houston to do it, but not dumb to at least test the waters.

        • CamFrost

          Trading Harden is a laughable move. Why trade the centerpiece of a team that has given the KD era Warriors the closest fight of anyone else in the league? Give me a sizable break.

          • Losing to the same team with practically the same team twice now is laughable. When is it enough? Tell me who they can bring in to make them better than GS? Trading CP3 or Capella for anything other than a star starter isn’t going to do it. They can’t afford Cousins and keep their current roster. And how’s that going to work? Did the Melo experiment work? Harden is elite. Sometimes you have to make changes.

            • x%sure

              Portland was supposed to be stuck but they hung in there and got farther. Houston has few options and their main job will be not to backslide.

    • knickscavsfan

      Why would the owner even think about trading a player who will likely be first or second in the MVP voting? He just made it clear that he wants to improve the team. Trading Harden and getting Simmons back as your best player isn’t an improvement.

  5. Reflect

    “I’ve directed my people to get better next year”

    Okay… did they not have that directive all the other years?

    • x%sure

      Fertita is a hustler and essentially admitted it at the end. His words are turds, no way to shine them up. He is going to miss his title window.
      Poor Morey what can he say. Soldier on with conflicting orders.

  6. victorg

    yeah the below the tax line was an accident was a lie but that’s fine he doesn’t have to always tell the truth he is not jesus lol

  7. Sorry, TF, thou protest too loudly. Nobody with a clue is going to buy that Morey, on his own, decided to prioritize getting under the luxury tax line. The 767 isn’t impressing anyone; some of your players can afford their own. They needed you to pay luxury tax, when doing it could have improved the team or at least preserved assets.

    • victorg

      yes and no on that end … ariza wouldn’t have made this team better if anything loosing LUC and Ariza enabled them to get Rivers and Faried which were the boost they needed this season they just came up short because of GSW are that damn good.

      • x%sure

        Dantoni quit playing Faried.
        Ariza would have helped them to a better start, so Harden did not have to kick it in early in the season and use up energy best saved for the playoffs.
        GSW is GSW but Phoenix messed up Houston with that ridiculous Ariza offer.

      • Nope, just no. I didn’t mention Ariza, but since you did, he’d have been far more valuable than two scrubs like Rivers and Faried. Don’t take my word for it, take MDA’s. Ariza was a starter playing over 30 min, while those two got irregular bench minutes.

        But the real problem is resources were wasted to eliminate luxury tax, when they should have been used to replace Ariza with a starting F, so Gordon could stay in his starter minutes bench role. Or otherwise get BETTER, not worse or even the same. No team that limits itself to minimum contracts when they don’t have to is prioritizing winning. Period.

  8. victorg

    I think this works out for both teams IMO.

    2021 top 7 protected first rounder

    #1 pick (ZION)

    • Oh no. You suggested a Harden trade. Prepare to be shot down for thinking outside the box.

      • knickscavsfan

        Thinking outside the box or making a completely insane move just after saying how you want to improve the team? What’s the point of that? Davis can walk in 1 year. Zion, as great as he MIGHT be isn’t anywhere near a proven NBA MVP player which is what Harden is. Insane.

    • I never understand trading for a group of players from a losing franchise. As great as AD is, I don’t think that will work out for Houston.

      Like Demps not taking LA trade cuz Kuz and em are simply not winners…at least not yet. If Im trading AD, Im going after players from a winning system.

      Quality. Not quanity

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