July 5, 2013 18 Comments
That’s the best way I can describe Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey.
What else can you say for an executive who transformed a team from coming off a 3rd straight respectable but mediocre-ceiling to championship calibre season in less than 2 years?
Daryl Morey could have done the safe thing. He could have stuck it out with the roster that he had. Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry as the core to go along with some nice young talent in Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson and Chase Budinger. The sky was by no means the limit but this team had playoff potential.
As he should have, Daryl Morey said “screw that”.
The NBA, or professional sports in general, are not about making the playoffs. It’s about winning championships. Even though the NBA offers very little in the way of competitive balance, being content with making the playoffs is like settling for ground beef when you can have filet mignon.
In the immortal words of Herm Edwards, “you play to win the game!”
When so many teams are hell-bent on sneaking their way into the playoffs, Daryl Morey wasn’t having any of it. His job would have been secure if he was able to finish a 7th or 8th seed. The Western Conference is almost as tough as the MLB’s AL East division, almost.
Yet, he still decided to blow it up.
Daryl Morey was going to do it his way and he didn’t care what anyone thought of his plan.
That’s the crux of being a general manager. If you’re going to be terrible, you might as well be terrible on your own terms. Don’t be terrible by bowing down to media, fans and other voices in the front office. It’s hard enough being a GM, but it must be even more difficult if you’re not going with your instinct.
What Morey did took guts.
He didn’t blow up the team conventionally though. This wasn’t going into full tank mode as so many fans and media types (including myself) would recommend for situations such as the one the Rockets were in. He went pushed the reset button and made it work.
First, he traded an inconsistent Kyle Lowry to polar opposite GM Bryan Colangelo and the Toronto Raptors. He got a pretty much guaranteed lottery pick in return. Then, he boldly went after a questionable commodity in Jeremy Lin, stealing him away from the Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks. He gambled on Omer Asik. He amnestied another solid player in Luis Scola, while trading away Courtney Lee, Chase Budinger and Marcus Camby to stash away a bunch of draft picks.
Most incredibly, Morey found the star player that every franchise needs. He traded some players, picks (the ones he stashed) and Kevin Martin for James Harden. Another questionable commodity, Harden was acquired to be a franchise cornerstone even though no one had any idea if he could actually be one.
Daryl Morey didn’t let that phase him. He knew he needed to make bold moves, despite the fact that every one of those decisions could have blown up in his face.
Jeremy Lin could have been more Sebastian Telfair than Mike Conley. Omer Asik could have been more Kwame Brown than Emeka Okafor. James Harden could have been more Rudy Gay than Kevin Durant.
That didn’t happen though. Daryl Morey is a genius with a rabbit’s foot and four-leaf clover in his pocket.
Whatever. You gotta be good to be lucky and lucky to be good, right?
Lucky and plucky.
He deconstructed and reconstructed an average team into a championship contender in less than 2 years. No matter what you think of Dwight Howard, he makes Houston a legitimate threat in the Western Conference.
Without D-12, the Rockets made the playoffs and didn’t have a Milwaukee Bucks type exit from the first round. With Dwight Howard, the Rockets will be picked by some to win an NBA championship. Just like the Lakers!!!
Nevertheless, Morey tried something that very few GM’s would have ever even thought of, much less attempted. Although he could have very easily been kicked to the curb of the Houston Rockets training facility for a failed retool, Morey is now reaping the rewards of a sequence of events that deserves to be immortalized in a New York Times bestseller.
Whether the Rockets go the way of the Lakers or the Heat doesn’t matter because what Daryl Morey has been able to accomplish is something special. He is the real story of this never-ending Dwightmare.
All he needs now is for someone to put a ring on it.
Agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments section below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, you can follow me on twitter @chrisrossPTB and I will happily return the favour.