Rockets extend front office contracts of Rafael Stone, Eli Witus

The Rockets extended the contracts of general manager Rafael Stone and assistant general manager Eli Witus, longtime beat writer Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday. Terms of the deal, both in terms of finances and years, were not disclosed.

The agreements were reached in January, Feigen reports.

“We wanted to show them as well as the public we’re excited with the direction the Rockets were going,” owner Tilman Fertitta told Feigen. “It became clear that the Rockets had executed our plan to draft and develop young potential cornerstones for the franchise, stabilized the team with veterans that translated to winning games and found our coach for the present and future.”

By any objective measures, 2023-24 was a successful season.

After averaging fewer than 20 wins per season over the previous three years, the Rockets (41-41) became just the 10th NBA team in history — and the fifth in the last 30 years — to immediately follow up a season with 60 or more losses with a non-losing season.

Stone played a key role. In the preceding offseason, Stone hired Ime Udoka as head coach; drafted promising rookies Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore; and signed Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, Jeff Green, Aaron Holiday, and Jock Landale as free agents.

Those newcomers were paired with four young and talented returnees in Alperen Sengun, Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., and Tari Eason, and the combination had immediate benefits.

Thus, Stone and Witus were rewarded. Both were hired to their current roles in October 2020 after the exit of longtime general manager Rafael Stone, and it appears they will stay in place as the Rockets ditch the rebuilding years and move closer to contention.

Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire