Mike D'Antoni Contract 'Probably No. 1' Offseason Priority, Says Rockets' Morey

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistSeptember 6, 2020

Houston Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni applauds his team during the second half of an NBA first-round playoff basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets are fighting for a championship with head coach Mike D'Antoni leading the way from the sideline, and general manager Daryl Morey apparently wants it to remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Morey said re-signing D'Antoni after his contract expires following this season is the team's top priority.Β 

"It's probably No. 1," he said, per Mark Medina of USA Today. "That's a fair way to put it. We have all our key players signed. I think Mike coming back is super important."

D'Antoni, who also coached the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, has a 217-101 record in four seasons at the helm for the Rockets. They have reached the second round of the playoffs all four years and advanced to the 2018 Western Conference Finals, only to lose to the Golden State Warriors in heartbreaking fashion in Game 7.

On the heels of that success, ESPN'sΒ Adrian WojnarowskiΒ reported the Indiana Pacers will look to hire D'Antoni to replace the fired Nate McMillan this offseason if he doesn't stay with Houston.

Morey said the idea that other teams would target D'Antoni because of the uncertainty about his future is more of a "media creation" that is also "convenient for agents to focus on."

For his part, the head coach is not interested in distractions that have arisen from his contract status during the team's playoff run in the bubble at Walt Disney World Resort.

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"The moment is too big to get distracted," D'Antoni said. "We've been through a lot. I've been through a lot in all kinds of different ways. Everybody has something to fight for, but it's a little bit bigger than that. It's what we've done all year together and trying to build a team and trying to get to where we want to get at. That supersedes everything."

Houston needed the full seven games to get past the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round, and questions about D'Antoni's future would have been quite loud had the Rockets lost.

However, they dominated the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the second round and look the part of a championship contender with James Harden and Russell Westbrook leading the way.

Given Morey's comments, D'Antoni may not have to worry about his job with Houston even if the Rockets fall short of that goal this season.