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Tilman Fertitta still believes Rockets will hammer out deal with Mike D’Antoni

Mike D'Antoni, Tilman Fertitta, Rockets

The reported back-and-forth between Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and owner Tilman Fertitta over contractual matters heading into the last year of his deal left a sour taste for those fond of the longtime coach, as his record in Clutch City is terrific.

Fertitta, who reportedly initially offered D’Antoni an incentive-based “prove-it” extension, is still optimistic about hammering out a deal with the 68-year-old — even after two separate failures to work out an extension in the offseason.

The Rockets owner has been a fan of incentive-base pay, something he tried to put in play with D’Antoni:

“You know, I don’t know about keeping anybody on edge, but I believe that when you perform well you should make more money,” Fertitta told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “I do like incentive-based contracts. I’ve built my company on incentive-based… The successful people in the business world are incentive-based. These guys that play basketball love playing basketball, but don’t think that they’re not motivated by money. If I’m doing well, I want everybody to do well. And that’s just the way I feel.”

Yet Fertitta doesn’t believe that a coach is a “lame duck” waiting to be fired just because he manages to reach the final year of his contract without an extension:

“Well, I can tell you this, I really like our coach, ok? I really like him a lot. And if I’m a betting man, I bet you he’s here again the following year, ok? But it’s ok. He’s going to play out this contract, and he and I will sit down and both of us will walk out of the room happy.”

Fertitta extended general manager Daryl Morey last season shortly after the longtime executive was able to put the Rockets under the tax threshold. D’Antoni’s initial reported contract offer was for a base salary of $5 million with incentives based on winning playoff rounds, but that $5 million would have been cut in half if Houston failed to make the playoffs and/or he was fired before 2020-21. There were further negotiations, but nothing has been agreed upon.

For the sake of comparison, Monty Williams, who was hired by the Phoenix Suns, will make $5 million in 2019-20 without the need to meet any of those incentive-based conditions.