Daryl Morey Stepping Down As Rockets GM

Longtime Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is stepping down from his position in Houston’s front office, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Rockets’ plan is to promote executive VP of basketball operations Rafael Stone to fill Morey’s vacated GM role, sources tell ESPN. Eli Witus will also take on increased responsibility as Houston’s assistant general manager.

As Wojnarowski explains, Morey approached team owner Tilman Fertitta following the Rockets’ postseason elimination this summer to discuss the idea of leaving his job, despite having signed a five-year extension in 2019. Morey and Fertitta quietly negotiated an agreement to part ways, per Woj.

For the time being, Morey will remain with the franchise in an advisory role, helping the Rockets hire a new head coach to replace Mike D’Antoni. However, he’s only expected to remain in that role for a short period, according to Wojnarowski.

While Morey isn’t ruling out taking another job in a team’s front office at some point, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be looking for such an opportunity right away. Wojnarowski says the veteran NBA executive wants to spend some time with his family and explore what else might interest him professionally.

Morey has served as the general manager in Houston since all the way back in 2007, when Rick Adelman was coaching a roster headlined by Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. During his 13-year tenure, Morey oversaw 10 playoff berths and a pair of appearances in the Western Conference Finals in 2015 and 2018. The Rockets had the league’s second-best regular season record during those 13 years, according to ESPN.

Although Morey’s teams were never able to get over the hump and win a championship, he made some of the most memorable roster moves and personnel decisions of the last decade, including his trade for James Harden and his pivot to a three-pointer-heavy style of small-ball (and, in 2019/20, to “micro-ball”).

Morey came under fire last fall when he published a tweet in support of protestors in Hong Kong. He quickly deleted the tweet, but it generated major tension between the NBA and China, one of the league’s largest markets. A number of Chinese partners and advertisers severed ties with the NBA on a temporary or permanent basis, costing the league hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

China’s push for the NBA to discipline Morey and/or the Rockets to fire him led to leaguewide speculation about his job security over the last year. However, the league and the team never took action, with Fertitta insisting that he was standing by his GM.

Morey’s decision to step down was “100 percent” his own, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

With Morey out of the picture, it will be fascinating to see what direction the Rockets’ offseason takes under Stone. Harden and Russell Westbrook remain under contract for the next three seasons, so there’s no need for the club to make major changes or overhaul its roster yet, but the new decision-makers likely won’t be satisfied to simply run it back with the same group in 2020/21.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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45 thoughts on “Daryl Morey Stepping Down As Rockets GM

  1. imindless

    Can’t wait to see harden westbrook mvps reaction. Hahahahahahahahahahahah rockets are done

        • Steven St Croix

          Zero championships since 1988 and have had plenty of opportunities.

          • imindless

            @steven at croix salty much? Go to the mlb boards if you got something to say loud mouth. I’m sure your team has probably never made it to the ws so chill.

            • Lol imindless salty much? I’m sure your team hasn’t won a World Series since 1988

              • imindless

                @parx but we have won and that’s saying a lot more than your team has done I’m sure.

        • Lakers1

          Dodgers offense is firing on all cylinders.. braves built big lead in game 2 and escaped with the victory. Dodgers utterly smashed braves yesterday.. braves may lead 2-1 but momentum is with dodgers

    • Lakers1

      Has anyone checked on hardenwestbrook? Not one post.. world is ending in rocket land.. coach quit, gm quit and house quits to team during playoffs to get some.. what a miserable franchise

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Can’t wait to see the reaction from Dodgers fans if they lose again.

  2. Lakers1

    This is probably for the better of that team wants to advance.. he left them in a great position.. no picks and salary cap hell..I’d say they’d be smart to tear it down.. harden and Westbrook both 31

    • Yes exactly. New coach new GM, this is the perfect time to trade James Harden. They have to do it if they want any chance of success in the future. If they wait he’ll only get older and slower and hurt.

  3. Sillivan

    A few month ago, ESPN Richard Jefferson predicted that Morey will be fired offseason.

    • Jason Lancaster

      Me too, but I’m not on TV, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

      Everything you need to know about Houston now can be summed up in one anecdote: When Fertitta bought the team, one of the first things he did was put a large mural up in the hallway outside the main offices and locker room. Front and center on that mural is a picture of Fertitta.

      Houston is going to be the Texas Knicks.

      • Black Ace57

        More like the CCP Rockets. They should get a Huawei jersey sponsorship too.

  4. crosleyred

    Here is what really happened. The Chinese government called Fertitta and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. End of Morey. The NBA’s real commissioner resides in Beijing.

    • claude raymond

      Morey ripped on the Chinese government for brutalizing Chinese citizens and got ridiculed by the NBA leaders/players. The same group that promoted human rights in the US.

      Can you say “hypocrites”? NBA needs to look in the proverbial mirror. Morey was railroaded. I’m not a rockets fan so I can’t speak to his management decisions. Can’t criticize nor defend them. But that man spoke honestly and the league butchered him.

      Crosleyred, I’m guessing you followed the Reds back in the day. Sorry for losing Morgan, one of my favorites growing up.

      Great post and I suppose you were speaking tongue in cheek but you might be right

      • Rewane

        To my knowledge, Morey has not done anything in regards to China beside tweeting “Stand with Hong Kong, Fight for Freedom” and deleting the tweet. That is a pretty low standard for you to think he was a human rights fighter. Only he has access to his personal Twitter account, so deleting the tweet probably means he’s drunk on a Friday night and sent the tweet hot-headed.
        What has the league done that “butchered him”? The league and Silver has said they supported freedom of speech day one of the incident. Only one who spoke negatively on Morey was LeBron James, who said Morey is not educated enough on the issue.

        • claude raymond

          Re wane, he got criticized unfairly for his tweet.

          Where did I say Morey was a human rights fighter? Where did you find out his condition when he tweeted? What makes you think Lebron is onlyONE voice of the league?

          Plain and simple, Morey took a huge hit for speaking up. Since you personally know him and know that he’s hotheaded and likes to tweet when he drinks on a Friday night why don’t you ask him how much hate mail (and probable death threats) he received for his drunken hot headed tweet and then report back to us

          • Rewane

            So you think tweeting something on the keyboard and later deleting it is speaking up? You have evidence that other people in the league criticized him?He tweeted late Friday night in off-season and deleted it in minutes, so I made a reaching assumption that he was drunk and hot-headed. He wanted to speak out by tweeting that and then tried to avoid backlash from China by deleting the tweet, ending up achieving neither. Nobody deserved death threats, but he deserves whatever hit he is getting.

            • x%sure

              So darned if he does, and darned if he deletes it, great. Not sure what side of what bar of what time you’re on.

              IMO China is too big to be in control of itself, anymore just like Brazil, Russia, and this one, maybe some more.

      • Black Ace57

        Considering Nike shoes are likely at least partly made by the Uighers now it is much more than just hypocritical.

  5. madmanTX

    Local radio in Houston reports that morey’s decision to step down was 100% his own, but funny how it works out best for the rockets, their owner and the nba to have the rockets merch selling again in China?

  6. GoLandCrabs

    Morey is a failure as a GM. 2nd most wins in 13 years but zero Finals appearances. He was living off the glory of the Harden trade for 8 years. Did nothing to complement his golden moment as a GM.Trading for Westbrick was the final nail in the coffin.

    • Sign all the Cubans
      Sign all the Cubans

      He should have been fired for the failed midget ball experiment.

  7. Jason Lancaster

    No surprise. Fertitta has taken total control now – the candidates they’re considering in the coaching search were obviously not going to fit with Morey’s approach to the game.

    We’ll see who Fertitta brings in to coach, but my guess is that Houston is less than 18 months away from a total teardown.

    Let the James Harden trade rumors begin!

  8. x%sure

    Fertitta is spending too much on the Rockets, when it seems like he should be propping up all the hard-hit restaurants he is ostensible owner of, and all those employees. However I am not informed in this area especially.
    I’m hoping this is what this is all about.
    He may not be able to keep paying hwmvps for posts! lol

  9. mike.honcho

    Seriously, why don’t some team hire one of these know-it-all types like Windhorst, Lowe, etc as their GM.

    Let’s see if they can put into practice what they bitch and rant about on their podcasts.

  10. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Morey will probably end up taking off a year then come back after next season and get a huge contract from some team to build another perennial contender like he did in Houston.

    • harden-westbrook-mvps

      Sorry I took so long here, but I was watching the Astros win again.

      • x_burner_X

        I have one word for you – REBUILD))

        I heard Heankie is available for GM

  11. KnickerbockerAl

    Morey hasn’t done anything. He blew it with Yao. Let him damage his foot and his career. Then didn’t prepare for it. He’s been rebuilding ever since. He lucked out with Harden. But in truth he’s probably worst star you can have. Not a team guy in a team sport. He’s lucky he was in Houston. They only care about Rockets if they are in playoffs. In a basketball city. He would have been fired after Yao incident. Analytics is a Tool. Not basketball Gods word

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