Executive of the Year

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey

Genius.

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 cross_can15@hotmail.com

Also, you can follow me on twitter @chrisrossPTB and I will happily return the favour.

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No Lin Situation

Editors note: Excuse my title and conclusion. I couldn’t resist.

The New York Knicks had 2 choices: One, they pay a generous amount of money to keep Jeremy Lin in the Big Apple. Two, they let Linsanity walk and every greenback dollar that his sensation would have brought to the franchise along with it.

There was no right choice for James Dolan.

Sign Lin to the 3 year, $25 million back loaded contract and you risk compromising your already delicate as a baby’s head roster. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have both gone public about their displeasure with the enormity of Lin’s contract. Behind the scenes locker-room balance is often overblown by the media but Linsanity could very well have produced a major rift among the Knick players.

Not to mention that bringing Lin back would in all likelihood have meant a similar and familiar fate for the New York Knicks and their fans – no championship. Because of the danger Lin’s contract posed to the Knicks financially, anything less than a championship in his 3 years would have been deemed a failure.

Considering what the Knicks have given up to create this “superstar” roster to match that of Miami and Oklahoma City, bringing Jeremy Lin back would have brought even more unrealistic expectations to a team that has shown no ability to contend.

On the other hand, let him walk and the Knicks risk losing a potential star quality NBA point guard. Lin doesn’t even have an entire season under his belt yet has shown that he can play at a level that most NBA players could never reach. The Knicks brass will never hear the end of it if Jeremy Lin finds a way to blossom in the Houston Rockets organization.

Lin will have to fall flat on his face in Houston to silence Lin’s legion of fans in New York.

3 point guards, a big luxury tax hit in 3 years and almost undoubtedly no championship? Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and no hope for a championship?

With Jeremy Lin, the Knicks were left without a good alternative.

Jeremy Lin is as unknown as the unknown gets. At this point, the mystery of Lin is tougher to solve than Jack the Ripper. No one knows who Jeremy Lin really is and who he really can be. The riddle of Lin is what has made this so doggone difficult for the Knicks.

Despite James Dolan’s apparent disgust at the Houston Rockets and Lin’s lack of loyalty, it is peculiar that, since their season ended, New York had been adamant in the fact that they would match whatever offer Jeremy Lin received. Marketing aside, Lin has immense potential that you would have thought the Knicks wanted to explore. They discovered Lin so it made sense that they wanted to see what type of player he could turn into. By handing him over to the Rockets it’s as if they discovered gold in a small untouched area yet didn’t want to fully invest in the possibility that the entire area could be flooded with gold.

While the marketability of Jeremy Lin clearly wasn’t as big a deal as it was made it out to be, the Knicks still lose out on that as well by setting Lin free.

Nevertheless, there was so much lose and awfully little win surrounding both choices in this decision-making process.

That is why it is so difficult, one way or the other, to condemn or applaud the Knicks in choosing to let Jeremy Lin sign with the Rockets.

There was just no Linning this one.

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Agree? Disagree? You can also e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

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