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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Houston Rockets GM Darryl Morey steps down as Rockets get busy

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The Houston Rockets, after six seasons as general manager, are changing hands. On Tuesday, Daryl Morey announced that he is stepping down as executive vice president and general manager for the team.

“I look forward to working closely with this incredible team and front office and building on this team’s tremendous momentum,” Morey said in a statement. “I am eager to do what I love and do what I’ve been doing for the majority of my professional life — being a player’s general manager.”

The Rockets said in a statement that owner Tilman Fertitta and president Tad Brown will take on more responsibility, but they did not indicate a name. Morey will join the ownership group.

Since 2013, Morey has led a remarkable rebuilding in Houston. After missing the playoffs in 2012, the Rockets have won two NBA titles in less than three years and last year defeated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

They were aggressive in offseason trades that brought Dwayne Wade and Eric Gordon from the Miami Heat, Carmelo Anthony from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Ryan Anderson from the Orlando Magic.

Still, coach Mike D’Antoni can field a more formidable roster this season, since he has regained the services of Chris Paul, who is returning from a shoulder injury.

And Luka Doncic, the most impressive rookie last season in the NBA, is ready to take a jump with the Dallas Mavericks. The 22-year-old, selected first overall in the 2018 draft, led the NBA in scoring in his first professional season.

Morey’s nine years as a general manager have placed him on the short list of prominent front office executives in the NBA. He is known for courting small-market teams that can’t afford superstars — having pushed Minnesota to hire former top Cavaliers executive David Griffin as GM, and bringing to Houston smaller-market teams the likes of Wesley Matthews, Trevor Ariza and Patrick Beverley. He also is working to grow the Rockets’ international profile by bringing in J.R. Smith from Cleveland, and he is pushing to add a top Spanish point guard — with both Ricky Rubio and Pau Gasol in Houston, last season’s third pick, Milos Teodosic, of Serbia, appears to be a potential fit.

Going forward, Morey might be a name to watch in the college basketball world, given his recent post-draft signing of Dennis Smith Jr., a point guard out of North Carolina State, who has been a star for the Blue Devils since his freshman season.

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