After well over a decade of serving as the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey is stepping down from that role, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The decision to walk away from the Rockets was reportedly ‘100 percent‘ Morey’s, and he approached owner Tilman Fertitta about a potential split after the Rockets were eliminated in the Western Conference semifinals by the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Morey’s replacement is already in house as the Rockets are planning to promote executive vice president of basketball operations Rafael Stone to the role of general manager, per Wojnarowski. Stone has been with the Rockets since 2005. Also, Eli Witus will be promoted to assistant general manager. Morey’s full departure from Houston won’t be immediate as he will remain in an advisory role in order to help Houston complete its ongoing search for a new head coach. 

This latest change comes just weeks after the team parted ways with coach Mike D’Antoni following the conclusion of the team’s 2019-20 campaign. At that time, Fertitta made it clear that Morey’s job as general manager wasn’t in jeopardy and that Morey would be tasked with selecting D’Antoni’s successor. 

“Daryl Morey’s job is safe,” Fertitta said. “I’m sure he’s going to pick the right head coach. … It begins and ends with the general manager. You can talk to me all day long. I personally wouldn’t know what coach to hire. That’s why you have a basketball operations team that’s made of a half a dozen people that use all kinds of analytics and experience. They’ll make a recommendation to me. They do about everything. I’m the sign-off guy. That’s it.

“I wouldn’t know how to interview a basketball coach,” Fertitta added. “You want me to go interview a CEO for a company, I’m the first one to tell you I think [I’m] better than anybody else. To be successful in business, and I say this in my book, you better know what you know and you better know what you don’t know. I surely know what I don’t know when it comes to basketball.”  

Morey, who signed a five-year extension with the Rockets last year, has been the team’s general manager since 2007. Houston had the league’s second-best regular season record during that stretch. Houston also has the league’s longest current playoff streak with eight straight postseason appearances. Despite the success the franchise enjoyed under Morey, the Rockets were never able to make it all the way out of the West and to the Finals. They came closest in 2018 when they lost in the Western Conference finals in seven games to the Golden State Warriors. Under Stone, the Rockets will look to advance further than they were able to with Morey at the helm. 

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