Rockets power struggle
The Rockets fell short of their ultimate goal again this season. Every team's ultimate goal is winning the NBA title. The Rockets, however, have made it known that they are obsessed with beating the Golden State Warriors. Some would say they had their best shot was this season (Kevin Durant being injured and missing time, plus Ayesha Curry putting her and Steph's love life out for all to opine on), others would argue last season was their best shot (a Chris Paul hamstring away). Either way, they fell short and had plenty of opportunities each time to dethrone the Warriors' dynasty.
News has come down lately that may speak into some chinks in the armor that may have led to the Rockets' demise the last couple seasons. It has been talked about on this site by Charlie Pallilo; Joel Blank (twice); Salman Ali (twice); Paul Muth; and by Lance Zierlien, John Granato, and Raheel Ramzanali (twice). I wrote about how the Rockets still have a place in the hearts of Houston sports fans compared to the Texans despite them losing to the Warriors. However, there may be a bigger opponent the team is fighting that may come from within.
Reading through the tea leaves of a Marc Stein quote tweet of Jonathan Feigen, may tell us more about what's to become of this iteration of the Rockets.If anything can be derived from these tea leaves, it's saying that Mike D'antoni may either be on his way out, and/or being forced to make changes in his coaching staff if he wants to get an extension. Either way, it shows Tillman Fertitta is putting his imprint on things and not settling for the status quo.
Where does this leave general manager Daryl Morey? Morey seems to be in a bit of a safe spot. He signed a five year extension in March. Meanwhile, D'Antoni is working on the last year of his deal, and has had some of his handpicked assistants Thanos-snapped away. Morey is still under pressure to produce in my opinion because Fertitta won't accept anything less than an NBA title while this team has James Harden in his prime.With the team over the currently salary cap and bucking the luxury tax threshold (especially depending on what moves they make this offseason), it'll take a miracle for Morey to make any moves that'll vastly improve this team's chances. Considering they have no first round picks, very few desirable assets worth trading, and a couple albatross worthy contracts, Morey will have to Jedi mind trick his way through yet another offseason of transactions. That, or he'll have to hope he finds more diamonds in the rough like he did this past season with guys like Austin Rivers, Kenneth Faried, and Danuel House. But if D'Antoni doesn't cook up something with the groceries he's been provided with 9as has been his M.O. in the playoffs), he may be on the outs soon being as Morey is the one with the job security via his extension.
I have full faith this team will continue to play at a high level during the regular seasons in the years to come. Post-season play and performance is up for debate. as it stands, their best hope is for the Warriors and the rest of the Western Conference to stagnate or get worse, while they continue on their pace. That, or pray for a miracle. As the old saying I was taught by my grandfather goes: "crap in one hand and wish in the other, see which one gets full first."