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Daryl Morey stepping down as Houston Rockets GM; Jeff Van Gundy interviewing for head coach job

The Rockets are planning to promote executive vice president of basketball operations Rafael Stone to the role of general manager, according to ESPN.
Credit: AP
In this April 19, 2011, file photo, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey discusses the direction of the team with the media during a basketball news conference in Houston, after the decision to part ways with head coach Rick Adelman.

HOUSTON — After well over a decade of serving as the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey is stepping down from that role.  

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

It was first reported by ESPN. It was confirmed by the Rockets Thursday evening. Morey said he had been thinking about it after the Rockets were eliminated by the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the bubble in Orlando.

“After returning from Orlando and reflecting on what has been an amazing 14 years with the Houston Rockets, and after discussing my thoughts with family and close friends, I've decided I’ll be stepping away from the Rockets organization effective November 1st," Morey said. "Tilman and I have had many conversations since I returned, and his unwavering support and counsel during our time together has been critical to our success. 

Morey's likely 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. Eli Witus will be promoted to assistant general manager. 

During Morey's tenure, the Rockets have made the playoffs nine times with an overall record of 272-204. In 2018, he was named the NBA's Executive of the Year.

Morey's full departure from Houston won't be immediate, as he will remain in an advisory role in order to help Houston complete their search for a new head coach, according to CBS Sports.

Van Gundy returning to Rockets?

Stone's first priority will likely be finding a new head coach after Mike D'Antoni announced last month he won't be returning.

Jeff Van Gundy interviewed for the job on Wednesday and is expected to be back today, according to Wojnarowski. 

Van Gundy hasn't coached in the NBA in more than a decade

 The ESPN broadcaster coached the New York Knicks from 1996-2001, and  the Rockets from 2003-2007. 

He coached Team USA in the qualifying rounds for the FIBA World Cup, leading a team of no-names to the gold medal at the 2017 FIBA AmeriCup. 

Van Gundy has been linked to jobs in the past. He was a finalist for the New Orleans Pelicans gig in 2015 (which, ironically, may go to his brother Stan Van Gundy in 2020), and has come up in Knicks rumors in the past. But his connection to the Rockets and the city of Houston gives him an edge in this process, CBS Sports reports. The only question is how he would adjust to Houston's ultra-modern roster. 

Read more on CBSSports.com.

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