Washington

Report: Daryl Morey steps down as Rockets GM

Washington

More massive changes are coming out of Houston. About a month after head coach Mike D'Antoni stepped down, Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey reportedly did the same, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

Following the Rockets' exit at the hands of the Lakers in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, Morey reportedly approached owner Tilman Fertitta with the idea of leaving the job. Both quietly worked through an exit agreement and ultimately ended Morey's tenure with the franchise. 

Morey was first hired as general manager in 2007 and has helped lead the Rockets to eight consecutive playoff appearances. His run with the team has been defined by his trade for 2017-18 MVP and three-time scoring champion James Harden and his emphasis on analytics, particularly taking just three pointers and shots at the rim. No mid-range shots whatsoever. 

As the Rockets' continue to look for their next head coach, Morey will be replaced by vice president of basketball operations Rafael Stone. 

Beyond the personnel changes in the front office and on the sidelines, what's next for the Rockets on the court? They significantly reshaped their roster over the last year, trading Chris Paul to the Thunder for Russell Westbrook, partly due to both players' relationships with Harden and going full small-ball by trading Clint Capela away with no replacement at center besides the 6'5 PJ Tucker. 

Their roster flexibility is incredibly limited thanks to Harden and Westbrook's massive contracts and lack of young talent on rookie contracts and don't have a first round pick until 2022. As the team creeps closer to the luxury tax and farther away from contention, it's fair to wonder whether Stone will start a fire sale. 

 

Harden, Westbrook, Tucker and Robert Covington figure to be their most valuable trade chips, and it'd be difficult for the Rockets to get back an upgrade without parting with any of these four players. They might even struggle to get back good value for anyone but Harden. 

The Rockets are in a diffuclt situation and have seemingly backed themselves into a corner with an owner that may or may not want to pay the luxury tax. Could they be forced to ship Harden away in his prime? 

That remains to be seen, but it wouldn't be crazy to suggest that or a complete fire sale considering the way the roster is currently constructed.