Daryl Morey says re-signing Mike D’Antoni Houston’s top off-season priority

Sport

After a contract dispute that left Mike D’Antoni a lame-duck coach heading into this season, the buzz around the league is he would be gone after the season. D’Antoni has played it down, but the rumors (and talk of possible replacements) have not stopped.

As the Rockets prepare to face the Lakers in Game 3 of their series, Rockets GM Daryl Morey told Mark Medina of the USA Today his top priority this offseason is to bring D’Antoni back.

“It’s probably No. 1 That’s a fair way to put it,” Morey told USA TODAY Sports. “We have all our key players signed. I think Mike coming back is super important.”

Of course Morey said that, to say anything else would have meant bigger headlines and a real distraction at a time the team needs to be focused. He also may want D’Antoni back, the innovative coach is perfect for the Rockets’ small-ball system.

It also may not be Morey’s call. It is owner Tilman Fertitta who has to work out a new deal with his coach, and that has been where things have hit the wall before. Rumors of a front office overhaul coming in Houston have circulated since before Morey Tweeted about Hong Kong protesters.

What direction the Rockets go this off-season — other than keeping James Harden at the heart of everything on the court — up in the air.

Some of it will depend on what happens in this series against the Lakers and how Fertitta — seen as an owner who can be swung by his emotion — reacts. That is another unknown in a long list for the Rockets.