For the first time in 13 season, someone other than Daryl Morey will serve as the general manager of the Houston Rockets. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Morey, one of the leaders in the NBA’s embrace of analytics, will step down from his position and move into an advisory position with the team until it completes its search for a head coach. The news of Morey’s departure was confirmed by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, who stressed that this was Morey’s decision.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is leaving the Rockets, a person with knowledge of the decision said. Source said "100 percent" Morey's decision. @wojespn reported first.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 15, 2020
As Wojnarowski explains, Morey approached Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta about this following the team’s exit from the second round of the playoffs at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, at which point the two sides figured out an agreement. Morey, it is reported, wants to explore possibilities away from basketball for now and is open to returning to the league in the future.
In the aftermath of Houston’s elimination from the NBA’s restart in Orlando, Florida, Morey approached owner Tilman Fertitta with the idea of leaving the job and the sides quietly worked through an exit agreement to conclude his 13 seasons running the franchise’s basketball operations, sources said.
Morey isn’t ruling out a future return to the NBA on the team side, but he has become increasingly determined to explore what else might interest him professionally, sources said. Morey also saw an opportunity to spend time with two college-age children who are each taking a gap year academically during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rockets do apparently plan on promoting internally, with executive vice president of basketball operations Rafael Stone becoming their new general manager. The move comes as a major shock, as there was zero indication that Morey had any intention on leaving a team that had been built in his image over the course of his entire tenure. Houston, more than any team in the league, has been defined by its embrace of letting the numbers be their guiding principles, which has led to an admirable run of success.
However, the franchise — and, by extension, Morey — had come under scrutiny for never being able to get over the hump, with their overarching philosophy oftentimes coming under criticism. He also stirred up controversy prior to what ended up being his final year at the helm with a tweet in support of protestors opposing the Chinese government in Hong Kong, which led to the league taking a financial hit due to China’s refusal to air games in the aftermath. That did change recently, as CCTV aired the final two games of the NBA Finals.
It stands to reason that whenever he decides to return to basketball, Morey would be in demand by front offices in need of a major shake up. But for now, Morey is on his way out, and the Rockets are handing things over to Stone.