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Rockets GM Daryl Morey stepping down from Houston organization

Daryl Morey, Rockets

For years, Daryl Morey has molded the Houston Rockets into one of the more unique franchises in the NBA from an on-court perspective.

Morey built a contender in Houston around former MVP James Harden while also being unafraid to fully commit to playing “small ball” under former head coach Mike D’Antoni.

But Morey’s run in Houston appears to be at its end. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Morey is stepping down from his role with the Rockets:

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is stepping down, sources told ESPN.

In the aftermath of Houston’s elimination from the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Florida, Morey approached owner Tilman Fertitta with the idea of leaving the job and the sides quietly worked through an exit agreement to conclude his 13 seasons running the franchise’s basketball operations, sources said.

Wojnarowski added Morey is not counting out a future return to the NBA on the team side, but is also “determined to explore what else might interest him professionally” while having more time to spend with his family.

Rafael Stone, the executive vice president of basketball operations, will step into the GM role, per Wojnarowski.

This has been a tumultuous year for the Rockets, and Morey in particular.

Morey was thrust into the spotlight when he made comments supporting protestors in Hong Kong, which ultimately resulted in the Chinese Basketball Association and a number of streaming services nullifying partnerships with the NBA.

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta initially condemned Morey’s comments, though NBA Commissioner Adam Silver endorsed Morey’s right to free speech. However, there were rumblings Morey might be ousted before the season even began. It did not happen.

Instead, Morey oversaw one of the more unique experiments in basketball, with the Rockets trading away center Clint Capela and employing a five-out offense.

But the Los Angeles Lakers easily dispatched Houston in the second round, and the Rockets faced uncertainty after D’Antoni stepped down as head coach.

The franchise faces even more uncertainty now, as Morey appears intent on pursuing other challenges both personally and professionally.