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Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta denies ending extension talks with Mike D’Antoni, believes agent is playing hardball

Mike D'Antoni

A day after Mike D’Antoni’s days with the Houston Rockets appeared numbered, owner Tilman Fertitta insisted there’s still a chance the veteran coach signs a contract extension with his team during the offseason.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported on Thursday that D’Antoni had abruptly ended negotiations on a contract extension with the Rockets. Later, D’Antoni confirmed the news to reporters, telling Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that though the two parties could not reach an agreement, he was “looking forward” to “having a great” 2019-20 season, after which his contract would expire.

At a quickly arranged media availability, Fertitta then told reporters that D’Antoni and his representation are merely playing hard ball, also shedding more light on the rare one-year, incentive-laden contract Houston was offering the former Coach of the Year.

“We didn’t end extension talks,” he said, per The Chronicle. “Agents’ jobs are to play hardball. I made Mike a great extension offer. It was one of the better base salaries in basketball but also had the highest incentives in basketball. Mike could make 4 million in incentives. Business is business.

“I’m a very incentive-based guy. If you perform, I want you to do unbelievable.”

D’Antoni, for his part, declined to discuss the details of the Rockets’ contract offer.

Houston has already undergone major changes since the Golden State Warriors eliminated the team from the playoffs  for the second straight season. The Rockets have already parted ways with three assistant coaches, including defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, as well as multiple others in the basketball department, while a report emerged earlier this week saying general manager Daryl Morey was scouring the trade market for interest in every player on his roster except James Harden.