The Rockets and head coach Mike D’Antoni are apparently negotiating a contract extension once again, and the two sides are “nearing an agreement,” ESPN reported Saturday.
That’s somewhat surprising news, given an ESPN report late last week that contract talks had ended. But Saturday’s report noted that Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has reportedly removed the buyout language in the contract proposal that previously led to negotiations stalling.
D’Antoni’s agent, Warren LeGarie, told ESPN that Fertitta and general manager Daryl Morey visited D’Antoni at his home to restart the talks.
“They asked Mike what he thought, and Mike said, ‘Sounds great, but talk to Warren,’ ” LeGarie said. “Mike’s job is coaching, and he leaves the negotiating to me.”
D’Antoni, 68, who has one season remaining on his existing deal, has said he wants to coach three more years. He had revealed last month he was talking with the team about a new contract, yet things seemed to take a turn for the worse in late May following reports that the team had fired several of D’Antoni’s assistants.
D’Antoni has taken the Rockets to a new level in the regular season in his three seasons there, compiling a 173-73 mark. But the Rockets have been ousted the past two years from the playoffs by the Warriors in disappointing circumstances, losing a 3-2 series lead in the Western Conference finals last season and then falling to a hobbled Golden State squad, 4-2, in the semifinals this season.
Still, three consecutive 50-plus win seasons is enough to justify an extension for D’Antoni.