Report: Mike D’Antoni informed Rockets on flight home he is not returning
Mike D’Antoni’s decision to not pursue a contract extension with the Houston Rockets was not exactly a shock, but some were surprised with how quickly it was made. After the Rockets were eliminated from the postseason, D’Antoni didn’t even wait until the team’s plane arrived home to say his goodbyes.
Kelly Iko and Sam Amick of The Athletic published a detailed look at the breakup between D’Antoni and the Rockets. D’Antoni reportedly had not ruled out returning next season after the Rockets lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 on Saturday, and he met with general manager Daryl Morey that night. Sources told Iko and Amick that D’Antoni was then expecting a phone call from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta that never came.
D’Antoni was still expecting a call from Fertitta the following morning, but it never happened. The 69-year-old then made up his mind before boarding the team flight home that he would not seek another contract from the Rockets. D’Antoni then called his agent, Warren LeGarie, and told him he could deliver the news while the plane was in the air.
No one knew D’Antoni had made up his mind until he broke the news shortly before the plane landed, according to The Athletic. He informed Morey first, as the two have maintained a close relationship. D’Antoni then delivered the news to the team.
If there’s any disconnect, it is clearly between D’Antoni and Fertitta. Morey seemed to want D’Antoni back, and the coach reportedly had not made up his mind prior to Fertitta snubbing him. Fertitta recently put D’Antoni’s fate in Morey’s hands, but it sounds like the lack of communication from the team owner was a significant factor.