HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- Rafael Stone’s biggest adjustment to Daryl Morey no longer being part of the Rockets front office won’t be that he’s replacing him.
“He used to hitch a ride with me everywhere, so now I’m going solo. He’s not going to kick my dash and break it.”
Stone replaced Morey as Rockets general manager on October 15, and the team introduced him alongside new head coach Stephen Silas in a virtual press conference Thursday afternoon on the Rockets practice floor inside Toyota Center. Stone’s face may not be familiar to fans, but he’s been an important member of the Rockets front office since joining the team as a general counsel in 2005.
“I've been involved with basketball operations and working within that group the entire time,” Stone said.
He worked closely with Morey and moved up the chain in the Rockets front office and was named vice president of basketball operations 19 months ago.
“When Sam hinkie left (in 2013) there was an opportunity to really settle in on the strategy side, and then, when Gersson (Rosas) left, there was an opportunity to jump in more on the scouting side.
“Every single transaction we've ever done here I've been involved with.”
Morey was the face of the Rockets front office for 13 years, but he wasn’t running the show by himself.
“We've all had a very collaborative environment, Rockets president Tad Brown said. “I can say that from a basketball operations perspective, as well as from the integration of the partnership that that Daryl and I had, between (the basketball and business) departments and just how we used to talk and lean on each other and talk about all phases of the organization.”
The Rockets have been in win-now mode ever since Morey traded for James Harden eight years ago, and that won’t change with Stone at the helm.
“I'm lucky, my team still intact so we're just going to plow into it like we always do.”
Stone’s one big uncertainty is not knowing the NBA calendar, which is still being negotiated, though the draft will take place November 18. The league favors starting the season on December 22 with training camps opening December 1. When the condensed offseason begins Stone plans on doing what he can to improve the Rockets roster.
“Fundamentally we're just going to approach it like we always do which is trying to find the most talented guys that we can add and then try and make it work from there. We don't really get locked into to anything because we're always just trying to find any way to make (the team) better. There's no one way to do it, so we're going to attack the draft and we're going to attack free agency like we always do.”