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Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, GM Daryl Morey insist they want Mike D’Antoni to continue coaching

Daryl Morey, Tilman Fertitta, Mike D'Antoni

Houston Rockets brass, led by newly extended general manager Daryl Morey and new owner Tilman Fertitta, insist they want head coach Mike D’Antoni to continue at the helm of the franchise, despite a recent underwhelming offer the coach and his agent quickly turned down in negotiations, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times:

The Rockets insist otherwise — publicly and privately. Tilman Fertitta, Houston’s owner, and General Manager Daryl Morey both say they want D’Antoni to continue coaching and have forcefully rejected suggestions circulating in the coaching community that they are trying to nudge D’Antoni toward the exit without actually firing him.

The Rockets offered D’Antoni a one-year extension with a base of $2.5 million — half-a-million less than entry-level coaches like Frank Vogel have gotten this summer.

D’Antoni is deserving of better than market price, one that new Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams set with a figure of $5 million per year upon signing a five-year deal with the organization.

Houston did offer $4 million worth of playoff incentives, but those start with first reaching the second round of the playoffs ($1 million), then another million for each stage reached — making it possible to reach $6.5 million in one year if he wins the title.

D’Antoni’s agent, Warren LeGarie, said that while they were not insulted by the offer, it was their right not to take it. The Rockets may claim they still want D’Antoni to stick around for the long haul, but this all sets up an interesting scenario with D’Antoni heading into the final year of his deal with a lot of pressure on him.

In this case, actions speak louder than words. And while Morey and Fertitta are denying any ill intentions, firing D’Antoni’s coaching staff and short-changing him on a contract extension after he has proved to be the most successful coach in franchise history is a lot more telling than what they want to let on.