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Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta says team GM Daryl Morey’s job is ‘safe’

Daryl Morey, GM of the Houston Rockets, talks on the phone during practice as part of the NBA Restart 2020 on July 23, 2020 in Orlando, Florida.

Bill Baptist | National Basketball Association | Getty Images

Despite expressing geopolitical views via social media and potentially costing the National Basketball Association hundreds of millions of dollars, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is safe, according to team owner Tilman Fertitta.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Power Lunch” on Tuesday, Fertitta solidified Morey’s employment with the NBA franchise and said he’s in charge of finding the Rockets’ new head coach.

“Daryl Morey’s job is safe, and I’m sure he’s going to pick the right head coach,” Fertitta said of Morey’s job to find a replacement for Mike D’Antoni, who announced he would not return to the Rockets.

The Rockets were recently bounced from the NBA’s bubble postseason in Orlando after falling to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games.

“We won the first game against LA, and we thought that was going to be a magnificent series, but there is a reason LeBron James has been to the [NBA Finals] nine years in a row,” Fertitta said. “They made adjustments and played unbelievable.”

On Sunday, D’Antoni said he’s starting a “new chapter” after coaching the Rockets for four seasons. The move wasn’t labeled a firing, as the Rockets declined to renew D’Antoni’s contract. He finished with a 217-101 record, going 28-21 in the playoffs.

Referring to himself as the “signoff guy,” Fertitta admitted he’s not familiar with the process of selecting an NBA head coach and will leave the decision to Morey.

“It begins and ends with the general manager,” Fertitta said. “You can talk to me about business all day long, but I personally wouldn’t know which coach to hire. That’s why you have a basketball operations team that’s made up of half a dozen people that use all kind of analytics and experience.”

He added, “I’m the signoff guy, that’s it.”

Morey has been low key this season after expressing his support for Hong Kong protesters via Twitter last October. In a now-deleted tweet, Morey said, “Fight for Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong,” which caused a severe strain on the NBA’s relationship with China. In February, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league could lose to $400 million because of the business interruptions from the rift with China.

Hong Kongers have protested for months over anxiety about Beijing’s creeping influence over the city, which the British handed over to China in 1997. The NBA publicly supported Morey’s right to free speech in America, although Morey did apologize for his tweet and has kept a low profile since.

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