Rockets’ Rafael Stone, Eli Witus Received Contract Extensions

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone and assistant GM Eli Witus signed multiyear contract extensions with the franchise earlier this season, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The deals were agreed to in January, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

Stone and Witus were promoted to their current basketball operations roles back in 2020 when longtime head of basketball operations Daryl Morey left the Rockets. The revamped front office immediately faced trade requests from veteran stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden and launched a full-fledged rebuild after having made eight consecutive playoff appearances.

That rebuild began to pay dividends this season, as third-year center Alperen Sengun enjoyed a breakout year while third-year guard Jalen Green had a big second half. Other young players, including rookies Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore, as well as second-year big man Jabari Smith, showed promise in regular roles for Houston.

Additionally, free agent additions like Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks fit in well with the Rockets, and new head coach Ime Udoka led the team to a 41-41 record following three straight seasons between 17 and 22 wins.

All of those positive developments were factors in ownership’s decision to extend both Stone and Witus, according to Wojnarowski.

“It became clear that the Rockets had executed our plan to draft and develop young potential cornerstones for the franchise, stabilized the team with veterans that translated to winning games and found our coach for the present and future,” Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said, per Feigen. “We wanted to show them as well as the public we’re excited with the direction the Rockets were going.”

The Rockets are projected to control at least one lottery pick this June, and Sengun and Green will become extension-eligible in July, so Stone, Witus, and the rest of the front office will have plenty of big decisions to make in the coming months.

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