Mike D'Antoni will head into the Rocket’s coming season on the final year of his contract – minus an extension.
Negotiations that could have led to the extension have ended, but team owner Tilman Fertitta says he tried to get something done.
“I made Mike a great extension offer. It was one of the better based salaries in basketball, but also had the highest incentives in basketball. Mike could make $4 million in incentives,” Fertitta says. “We and Mike are all on the same page. I'm thrilled that Mike’s going to be back this year. And I’m sure after the season this year, because I think we’re going to do well, we'll sit down and we’ll ink out another contract for Mike – as long as he wants to sit down with us, which I know he does. Mike's our coach. We’re successful. We’re going to sit down at the end of this year and we’ll keep working it out. I would prefer him to always work with at least a two-year contract. His agent decided that that’s not the way they want it to work. Do I think his agent overplay his card? Yes.”
D’Antoni will work the 2019-20 season in the final year of his deal.
“I don’t know what lame duck means, because he’s under contract. I think his agent did me a favor. Because if for some reason we had a horrible year and we thought we needed to make a coaching change, we just got through paying off one of the other coaches, I believe," Fertitta says. "I hope we win a championship and Mike comes and puts a gun to my head.”
Mike D’Antoni tells FOX 26, “We couldn't come to terms. I am look forward to next year with a lot of enthusiasm, and we’re going to have a great year. I’ve got one year left on my contract and I’m really excited about coming back and coaching. “
D’Antoni says coaching in the final year of his contract isn't a big deal to him.
“No, no, there’s no problems. It doesn’t make me coach any different or any less or have any more worries. So, no, it doesn’t cause any problems," D'Antoni says.
D’Antoni doesn't rule out returning to the Rockets after next season.
“It doesn’t preclude anything. It’s just that today we couldn't see eye to eye on things. And then we'll finish the year out, then we’ll see where it goes," D'Antoni says.
General Manager Daryl Morey says Rockets management, including Mike D’Antoni, were and are on the same page concerning the changes in the team’s coaching staff.
“On the coaching front, I told Mike I recommended that we make some changes. And after we met up this season, we all knew that we were all on the same page and we knew what the next steps were,” Morey says. “When Coach D'Antoni came in here we all had an agreement that we were going to work together on all the staff across the organization, we were going to be on the same page and we'll continue to be on the same page.”
And despite an ESPN report to the contrary, the Rockets aren’t trying to trade their top players.
“We have an extremely solid five that pretty much all but one or two teams in the league would like to have. Our starting five this year I’d put up there with anyone," Morey says. "Most teams have some risk of losing their solid players. We have very good players. We have the mid-level, like he mentioned, to add a 6th player. If there is a trade that helps us, great, we’ll do that as well. But I’m optimistic. Some of our main competitors are trying to keep their key people. We’re going to keep all our key people next year, and be aggressive if we can find better, but we have a great, again...”
“We’re not changing to change. If we can improve ourselves, we’re going to improve ourselves. But we love our starting five,” Fertitta says.