Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s job might be safe after all

While head coach Mike D’Antoni will not be returning to the Houston Rockets, it appears that general manager Daryl Morey will be back.

The Houston Rockets lost their second-round series to the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, dropping four consecutive games after taking Game 1. Wholesale changes are likely in Houston, but it appears that one of the biggest front office pieces will be staying in place, according to ESPN.

General manager Daryl Morey will be remaining with the team despite head coach Mike D’Antoni’s exit, suggesting that owner Tilman Fertitta buys into Morey’s small-ball vision. The veteran general manager has never been afraid to experiment with unconventional roster constructions, and his innovation will be needed as Houston attempts to navigate its current situation.

Is Daryl Morey’s job with the Rockets really safe?

The Rockets are stuck in a salary cap quandary due to Russell Westbrook’s exorbitant contract, and the former MVP’s subpar play in the postseason made it clear that he is not the answer as James Harden’s running mate.

Morey went all-in on the small ball movement this season, trading starting center Clint Capela in a four-team deal which brought Robert Covington to Houston. The Rockets, however, had a surprising degree of success on defense despite lacking a traditional big, putting P.J. Tucker at center.

Houston has the shooters to compete in a league increasingly focused on the long ball, but the Westbrook trade remains a black mark on Morey’s otherwise solid record. Chris Paul, the other centerpiece of the deal, consistently outplayed Westbrook in Houston’s first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his shooting sunk the Rockets on more than one occasion against the Los Angeles Lakers.

If Morey can somehow move Westbrook’s contract, he could carve out a long-term future in Houston. However, if the Rockets underperform again and it becomes clear that the team has reached its full potential, he could be on thin ice.

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