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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Rockets plan to work out extension with Mike D’Antoni after next season

Mike D'Antoni

The Houston Rockets were unable to come to an agreement with head coach Mike D’Antoni on a contract extension, but that does not mean they expect the 2019-20 season to be his final one with the franchise.

Shortly after news surfaced that D’Antoni has broken off negotiations with the Rockets, team owner Tilman Fertitta and general manager Daryl Morey spoke with reporters about the situation. Morey said neither he nor D’Antoni are worried about the contract, and he expressed confidence an extension will be worked out following next season.

“For me, it’s fine. I know Coach D’Antoni is fine,” Morey said. “He would have preferred to work something out, but we didn’t. We’ll work something out after the next season.”

Fertitta’s comments were a bit more interesting, as they showed the contrast between how an owner thinks and how a GM thinks. He scoffed at the notion that D’Antoni is a lame duck and said the coach’s agent actually “did me a favor” in case things don’t work out with D’Antoni.

“I don’t know what lame duck means, because he’s under contract,” Fertitta said. “I think his agent did me a favor, OK? Because if for some reason we had a horrible year and felt we needed to make a coaching change, we just got through paying off one of the other coaches. I hope we win a championship and Mike comes and puts a gun to my head.”

Fertitta was referring to Kevin McHale, whom the Rockets fired in 2015 not long after they signed him to a multi-year extension. From a business perspective, Fertitta would obviously prefer to avoid another situation like that.

The contract D’Antoni turned down from the Rockets would have paid him a base salary of $5 million per year with incentives for winning in the postseason.

This could be a very interesting offseason in Houston, as they are also reportedly open to shopping just about any player on their roster in trade talks. There was some talk of tension between superstars when the season ended, but D’Antoni downplayed that. Next season could be shaping up to be a make-or-break year for the Rockets.

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