Mike D'Antoni's Agent Not 'Willing to Take' Rockets' Latest Contract Amid Rumors

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJune 9, 2019

Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni reacts during the second half in Game 6 of the team's second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Golden State Warriors, Friday, May 10, 2019, in Houston. Golden State won 118-113, winning the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets and Mike D'Antoni may have re-engaged in contract extension talks, but the offer on the table still isn't close to being completed.

D'Antoni's agent, Warren LaGarie, was not part of the meeting between D'Antoni, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and general manager Daryl Morey and told media outlets the coach will not accept the offer in its current iteration.

"Nothing has changed," LaGarie told Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. "That is the offer, but it is not one we are willing to take."

"Did Mike speak to those guys down there? Yes, he did," LaGarie told ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "As always, they asked Mike what he thought, and Mike said, 'Sounds great, but talk to Warren.' Mike's job is coaching, and he leaves the negotiating to me.

"Mike is always affable with everybody out there, not trying to raise the rancor in a situation clearly gone astray."

The offer on the table took out buyout language that only would have guaranteed D'Antoni $2.5 million for the 2020-21 season if he was fired during next season or if the team did not make the playoffs and he was let go in 2020. The offer currently includes a $5 million base salary, with up to $4 million in incentives based on how the Rockets fare in the playoffs.

LaGarie has maintained that D'Antoni deserves a multiyear contract extension.

The Rockets are 173-73 in D'Antoni's first three seasons with the franchise. They went 53-29 during the 2018-19 season before losing to the Golden State Warriors in the conference semifinals. The Warriors have eliminated Houston each of the last two years, drawing the ire of Fertitta.

The Rockets have also jettisoned much of D'Antoni's coaching staff, including trusted defensive guru Jeff Bzdelik, who the team brought out of retirement this season to (successfully) fix the defense.

Fertitta previously said D'Antoni's agent did him a "favor" by not accepting the extension:

"I'm just going to tell you what I think from an owner's perspective, OK? I don't know what 'lame duck' means, because he's under contract. I think his agent did me a favor, OK? Because if for some reason we had a horrible year and thought we needed to make a coaching change. We just got through paying off one of the other coaches, I believe. So, I hope we win a championship and Mike comes and puts a gun to my head, OK.

"...Daryl has told me over and over that Mike is the best head coach that he's ever had, that he's enjoyed working with. And he has said that to me on numerous occasions."

The Rockets are a team in flux, with nearly every player on the roster also being tossed into trade discussions. Morey seemed to confirm on Instagram that James Harden and Chris Paul are the only untouchables.

With the roster uncertain, it would seem like a good idea for the Rockets to lock in D'Antoni to at least give the appearance of stability.