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Amick: Dantoni felt disrespected by organization, chose to quit on plane

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by justtxyank, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    In his latest Athletic piece, Amick says that Dantoni essentially quit after getting frustrated with multiple steps of disrespect from Tilman including the final straw being Tilman never calling him for their end of season wrap up.

    Edit: Also confirms Morey is expected to be safe

     
    #1 justtxyank, Sep 15, 2020
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  2. ashleyem

    ashleyem Member
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    Good, Morey needs to go
     
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  3. treyk3

    treyk3 Contributing Member

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    I didn’t read that line that way and knew it would be read this way. @KellyUnchained

    The Rockets, meanwhile, now find themselves in a bit of quandary. They have Harden and Westbrook on the books for massive money in these next three seasons (with player options in the final campaign), and will look to conduct a culture reset of sorts that, according to a source with knowledge of Fertitta’s thinking, is expected to include Morey. As for D’Antoni’s replacement, sources say ESPN analyst and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy is expected to be a candidate. Other media outlets have named Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue as a candidate as well.

    I read that as saying Daryl is expected to remain with the team.
     
  4. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    Interesting...now that you've typed that i'm no longer clear ha!
     
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  5. Ramo$e

    Ramo$e Member

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    Morey is not going anywhere no matter how many rumors they get you to buy.
     
  6. Reeko

    Reeko Member
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    Sources say D’Antoni and GM Daryl Morey met for a late dinner Saturday and conversed before returning to their rooms. By that evening, before D’Antoni went to bed, he had talked with everyone about the team and the season — players and management— but sources say he still hadn’t heard from owner Tilman Fertitta. There was an expectation of a phone call from ownership about the season and a plan to discuss his future upon returning, sources say.

    The team packed the next morning before the afternoon flight that would take it back to Houston. All morning, D’Antoni was expecting a call from Fertitta, but sources say it never came. Before getting onto the plane, sources say D’Antoni’s mind was made up that he wouldn’t be seeking another contract with the Rockets — short or long-term —and would prefer to test the open market. D’Antoni then called LeGarie, sources said, and let him know of his wishes. D’Antoni told LeGarie to deliver the message while the team plane was in the air, sources said.

    During the plane ride back to Houston, no one on the team knew D’Antoni’s mind had already been made up. Shortly before the plane landed in Houston, just before service began to return to everyone’s phones and the text/social media notifications would start to ding with the news, D’Antoni told Morey, his staff and the players about his decision. D’Antoni wanted to speak with Morey first and foremost, as the two had maintained a strong relationship. Morey was upset, sources say, but understood and respected D’Antoni’s decision. A relieved D’Antoni stood up, shook hands and hugged each member of the team that was on the plane.

    After all the work Morey had done to build this unique roster, with the February trade of big man Clint Capela inspiring the next iteration of small-ball and growing evidence that it just might work before it all fell apart at the end, this was the kind of basketball divorce both sides admit could have been avoided. Mistakes were made, chief among them the bitter and public back-and-forth over a contract extension that took place in May 2019. Feelings were hurt, with D’Antoni’s perceived disrespect from Fertitta a major factor until the end.
     
  7. steddinotayto

    steddinotayto Contributing Member
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    What Fertitta has shown me since he's owned the team is that he does not want to lose money. By firing Morey he'll lose money because he would still have to pay Daryl to sit on his ass at home. Put one and one together means that Morey is safe.
     
  8. Reeko

    Reeko Member
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    To understand why the divorce between D’Antoni and Houston was so strange, it helps to understand how their marriage began. D’Antoni signed a three-year, $15 million contract in 2016, with a team option for the fourth year (2019-20 season). After a successful first season — finishing third in the Western Conference with a 55-27 record, converting Harden to a full-time point guard who would lead the league in assists, and guiding Gordon to his first-ever Sixth Man of the Year trophy —D’Antoni wanted his option picked up.

    Sources say then-Rockets owner Les Alexander, who had led the decision to hire D’Antoni in June 2016, was working on granting a patient D’Antoni his wishes. But two weeks later, the team had been sold for a record $2.2 billion to Fertitta.

    The new billionaire businessman from nearby Galveston, who has always taken pride in being ruthless in his dealings, pushed back on the notion of picking up the option that early after D’Antoni asked again to have his extension picked up, sources say. D’Antoni had no idea that Alexander was selling the team, and it blindsided nearly everyone within the organization. This issue about D’Antoni’s option would not go away anytime soon.

    The following year was another successful one for D’Antoni’s Rockets. They finished with a franchise record 65 wins and made it to the Western Conference Finals. An unfortunate Chris Paul injury took the guard out of the final two games and the Rockets lost in Game 7 to the Warriors in a series that still leaves everyone wondering what might have been if Houston had been at full strength.

    That June, during the NBA Awards, where Harden was receiving his MVP trophy, D’Antoni was asked if he would still be the head coach if LeBron James ended up in Houston. Sources say D’Antoni was furious at the notion that his job security would even be in question following the successful season the team had just completed.

    What’s more, he believed the reason the Rockets hadn’t picked up his option, in large part was because they were holding out hope of landing James in free agency. Had that happened, D’Antoni believed they wanted the flexibility to change coaches if James came their way and preferred a different voice. Rockets officials deny that this was the case.

    The ’Melo chapter and Fertitta’s infamous rant
    The 2018-19 season was a particularly trying time for D’Antoni, the coach having to deal with a number of player situations. Expectations were sky-high for this group, which had a whiff of the NBA Finals months earlier, but stumbled out the gate to a 4-6 start. Everything that could have gone wrong during that time did, but no other storyline made more news than the drama surrounding veteran Carmelo Anthony signing with the team. The history between Anthony and D’Antoni was no secret, with the fallout during their time with the Knicks well-documented, but both parties insisted that was a thing of the past.

    Before long, Anthony’s on-court performances made it difficult to justify his position in the rotation, juxtaposed with the Rockets’ all-around early letdowns. D’Antoni, the coaching staff and members of the front office met after the Nov. 8 blowout loss in Oklahoma City, where Anthony scored a dismal three points on 1-11 shooting. There was a consensus that his role needed to be reduced, with some in the group citing that such young players as Gary Clark and newly-signed James Ennis could benefit from more playing time. In the two days between the loss to the Thunder and a game in San Antonio, the powers that be decided Anthony would be removed from the rotation altogether.

    The beginning of the end of D’Antoni’s time in Houston started later that season. The Rockets had survived a rough start and the scrutiny they faced due to the early-season Anthony drama. They looked like a contender as they approached the playoffs, but it all fell apart in the second round against (yet again) the Warriors. Houston was in a strong position to win the series after Kevin Durant went down with an injury in Game 5 but failed to steal a crucial road game and followed that up with Game 6 collapse of epic proportions.

    Fertitta, who wants nothing short of a championship, was furious about the failed opportunity to make the Conference Finals, going on an epic rant after the loss. “I’m a fighter. That’s my culture,” Fertitta said following the game. “The longer I own this team, they’re gonna pick up more of my culture. We had ’em. We should have stepped on their throats the other night and cut their throats. It’s not make a few shots and win, it’s step on their throats, and let’s take it back to Houston and end it in six.”

    The messiness of Fertitta’s message rubbed D’Antoni the wrong way, sources say, although he continued to act in a professional manner and focus on trying to get over the hump. D’Antoni and his representation still maintained his desire of coming to terms on an three-year extension, and held that stance for the past two seasons.
     
  9. Reeko

    Reeko Member
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    It would have been one thing if D’Antoni and the Rockets simply failed to get an extension done in May 2019 and then decided to revisit the situation when the contract came to an end. But so much had been said throughout the process, with Fertitta upsetting D’Antoni with his mid-May interview with the Houston Chronicle and a war of words ensuing two weeks later when LeGarie publicly countered Fertitta in the press after he had discussed the team’s offer publicly (as LeGarie shared, it wasn’t as advertised). There were hard feelings born out of that time that played a part until the end.

    The Chronicle interview, in particular, left quite a mark.

    Not only did Fertitta misrepresent D’Antoni’s aspirations in terms of how long he wanted to coach, but he aged him along the way too.

    “Mike is going to be 69 years old and Mike doesn’t totally know what he wants to do yet,” Fertitta had said.

    The problem, of course, was that D’Antoni had just turned 68 nine days before the interview was published. It might sound like a small thing, but it wasn’t in the least. D’Antoni wasted no time in setting the record straight, telling ESPN that he wanted to coach for three more years.

    Sources say D’Antoni was frustrated with not only the media being used as a negotiating tool but also how his desires were being construed. Sources also say that Fertitta’s public comments contradicted the negotiations that were taking place regarding D’Antoni’s extension, with D’Antoni always making it clear that he wanted to coach the team and that he had no desire of leaving that summer, even after a bitter exit that left a bad taste in the organization’s mouth.

    Believing that D’Antoni’s age was being used as a weapon against him, sources say that D’Antoni’s wife, Laurel, called an attorney and also called LeGarie. LeGarie then called Morey to let him know that discrimination based on age was against the law. D’Antoni’s age couldn’t be discussed as part of the reason why his extension wishes wouldn’t be met.

    Fertitta’s offer to D’Antoni, a one-year, $2.5 million deal, was seen as less-than-desirable, not only from a base figure but from a length standpoint. A one-year deal was seen as too risky in this climate, sources say. At 69, D’Antoni wanted some security and stability, rather than trying to survey the league market in search of a long term contract at 70. Still, D’Antoni didn’t take it personally or as a slight, sources say, understanding the business of the NBA and the negotiation battles that take place within it.

    Morey didn’t renew D’Antoni’s coaching staff last season, letting Mike Finch, Roy Rogers and Jeff Bzdelik go. D’Antoni didn’t appreciate those decisions, sources said. But ultimately, that wasn’t his job. When D’Antoni was hired four seasons ago, his job wasn’t to pick his own staff. Morey is very hands on in that aspect. In negotiations, one thing that was discussed was control and how much influence and leverage parties would have. D’Antoni was never given that freedom.
     
  10. Reeko

    Reeko Member
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    The Rockets went to great lengths to fix this bridge that had burned, but there was no greater effort than the trip to D’Antoni’s West Virginia home in the summer of 2019. After the extension talks had broken down in spectacular form in late May, sources say Fertitta wanted to make amends by making the trek to D’Antoni’s house with Morey and trying yet again to get a deal done. This time, he decided, he would add a personal touch.

    When Fertitta and Morey left the Greenbrier Resort, where a stream that’s teeming with trout runs below the D’Antoni home, they thought the deal was in the net. D’Antoni had been agreeable to the terms, sources say, even though they were similar to the ones he’d declined before.

    While it would have been an incentive-laden deal with guarantees of just one year and $2.5 million, Fertitta and Morey gave D’Antoni assurances that he was the coach they wanted for the long-term. D’Antoni, in turn, had grown tired of the back-and-forth and gave the strong impression that he was on board.

    But while everyone who was there that day agrees that it appeared they had come to terms on a deal, there was one major component — or one person, rather — missing from the discussion: LeGarie. D’Antoni has a good cop-bad cop dynamic with his longtime agent, as well as a great deal of loyalty. And when LeGarie and D’Antoni discussed the deal later, with hopes of a three-year extension having not been met, everything had changed.

    They had no deal after all.

    The aftermath
    It was all so cordial at the end.

    After all those times when decorum was in short supply, and when saying the right thing might have kept this unnecessary split from taking place, both D’Antoni and Fertitta heaped praise on one another when they said goodbye.

    Mike and Laurel went first.

    “It’s with tremendous sadness and gratitude that my wife Laurel and I announce that our incredible journey in Houston has ended for now and that we’ll be moving to a new chapter,” they said in the statement that was released before the Rockets ending. “Our time here was among the most memorable experiences of our lives. From the dear friends we’ve made, the incredible partnerships with civic-minded leaders, to the wonderful nonprofits and the clients they serve, Laurel and I will be forever indebted to this community for embracing our family.

    “Most of all, I can’t thank enough the entire Fertitta family, Daryl Morey, the staff, and the incredible, and dedicated players I’ve been privileged to coach. The Rockets are a historic NBA franchise with fantastic fans and we’ve been proud to join with you to play a part in some of the successes here in Houston. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making us feel like true Houstonians. For that, we will always be truly grateful.”

    Fertitta went next.

    “I would like to thank Mike D’Antoni and his wife, Laurel, for their incredible contributions to the Houston Rockets organization and the Houston community,” Fertitta said in a statement. “Mike is a true professional and an amazing basketball mind. He is a winner, and we have been blessed to have had such an outstanding coach and leader to work with the past four seasons. We wish Mike and Laurel nothing but success and happiness in their next chapter.”

    D’Antoni will be fine. He has made plenty of money in his storied career, could be bound for the Hall of Fame and is expected to be in the running for jobs in NBA places like Philadelphia and Indiana, where another coaching chapter might be written.

    The Rockets, meanwhile, now find themselves in a bit of quandary. They have Harden and Westbrook on the books for massive money in these next three seasons (with player options in the final campaign), and will look to conduct a culture reset of sorts that, according to a source with knowledge of Fertitta’s thinking, is expected to include Morey. As for D’Antoni’s replacement, sources say ESPN analyst and former Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy is expected to be a candidate. Other media outlets have named Clippers assistant coach Ty Lue as a candidate as well.

    The D’Antoni era in Houston is over, but was ultimately a successful one. The end was abrupt, but it’s clear that both parties in this breakup want to move forward as amicably as possible.

    D’Antoni and the Rockets could have landed in Houston, deplaned and continued on their mission to take a small ball experiment and turn it into a championship. Instead, the turbulence was too much to overcome in the end.
     
  11. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة
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    Tilman treats every subordinate this way.

    Not shocked.
     
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  12. daywalker02

    daywalker02 Easter Egg Hunter - Tell me why? نحن عائلة
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    Lol yeah but he has better chances to fulfill his vision with a more progressive owner.

    He's obviously in for the money too, has a good earning.

    His own loss.
     
  13. xiki

    xiki Contributing Member

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    Thanks.
     
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  14. steddinotayto

    steddinotayto Contributing Member
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    Thinking about it more I would be interested in knowing if there are any by-laws or fine print that allows an NBA team, specifically the owner, to trade its GM to another team. That would, of course, accomplish two things for Fertitta: get rid of Morey to bring in his inexperience kid or a drastically cheaper replacement and also get him out of paying Daryl.
     
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  15. bleedroxred79

    bleedroxred79 Member

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    Tilman shows no class but ultimately making the move not to sign MDA was correct. He was out coached and the team quit on him. Everyone knew game 5 was his last game and they laid down.
     
  16. SamFisher

    SamFisher Contributing Member
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    Fertitta, who wants nothing short of a championship*

    *as long as it's under the command of Lt. Savings
     
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  17. Ubiquitin

    Ubiquitin Contributing Member
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    Tilman is a garbage owner.
     
  18. ktex

    ktex Member

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    Tillman is such a cock, not exactly news but Jesus.
     
  19. Cstyle42

    Cstyle42 Member

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    Way to go Fertitta! F Dantoni!
     
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  20. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    Owner who won't let his team spend money and forces them to dump assets to save money is mad that team isn't good enough and doesn't have a "culture" that's all about winning.

    GTFO
     
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