Daryl Morey is famous for his liberal use and acquisition of assets. Every player on the Rockets is available all the time for the right price. Obviously, this has led to countless jokes.
"Daryl Morey is trying to trade his wife for X."
"Daryl Morey is considering trading an old VHS tape of Space Jam for a 'slightly used' DVD of The Shawshank Redemption."
You get the point.
So when a player (e.g. Jeremy Lin) gets signed by the Rockets, the "Hey Jeremy. Glad to see you joined the Rockets. Too bad you'll be gone at the deadline" jokes come out to play.
Well guess what? For the next three years, unless he asks out, Jeremy Lin will be a Houston Rocket.
Come with me after the jump where I tell you that the reasons behind my statement aren't really financially based.
I think this is the first time where Morey's hands are tied. For once, he's going to have to say, "You can have anyone...except Lin." I'm sure it will be difficult for him. He may have to see a psychiatrist to get over his certain mental block.
The obvious, glaring, can't-miss reason is money. As Jay Kang pointed out in his Dumb Move, Dolan piece (a worthy read, by the way):
Does it seem weird to anyone else that the one team willing to take on Lin's now-huge salary is the one team that has direct knowledge of just how much money an Asian star player can bring a franchise via international marketing?
Doesn't seem weird to me at all. In fact, I was shocked that more teams didn't throw money at Lin just for the financial aspect of it all. But as Lin has maintained, it was never a question about who to sign with because he only had one offer. You mean no team was willing to one-up the poison pill contract? No team wanted to give him a fourth year? People may not like Les Alexander's spending habits and how he and Daryl Morey have worked this offseason, but even his biggest detractors have to admit: the man is no idiot. He knows how to get his money, and by golly he's going to have a go at the Asian fans he had with Yao Ming.
Look, I hate looking at players like a tax filing and fitting them into stereotypes. I hate that whenever trades/drafts happen, a few people will whisper that it's like slavery and that the teams own the players and can do with them as they want. But two things have to be accounted for.
1. These are the highest paid basketball players in the world, so comparing the NBA (or any professional sport) to slavery is just silly.
2. The NBA is a business. The GMs and owners are not here to make friends and drinking buddies. Nor should they be. GMs get fired when they do poorly. Owners lose revenue. Being ruthless with your players comes with the territory.
But neither of those points disputes the fact that Jeremy Lin's Taiwanese heritage will help the Rockets and the NBA overseas. We saw it with Yao Ming, and though the phenomenon won't be a repeat since the rest of the world is starting to become slightly jaded towards their players in the NBA, the signing of Lin will still generate interest in the Rockets in the Asian market.
You know the old joke that the three most important factors in buying a house are location, location, and location? Well, in the NBA it's talent, cohesiveness with the system, and market appeal, and never really in that order.
Okay, so money makes Lin practically untouchable. But hey, there could come a time when Lin is playing poorly and his presence doesn't entice revenue or interest. Couldn't Morey be forgiven for trading him if that were the case?
We might forgive him. Heck, I'd forgive him right now because "In Morey We Trust" is becoming a credo that I've repeated so much that Morey could tell me he was Zoltan and I would go around making the hand gestures and everything.
Because if Morey trades Lin, this whole thing is going to come down on his head and destroy any goodwill he has left with agents. For years the Rockets have taken a hit by not extending contracts. I'm not going to get into that because it's neither here nor there, but suffice to say it factors in heavily.
When you don't extend players, it pisses them off. It pisses off their agents, so the agents steer their players away. And so it seriously deters other free agents from joining the Rockets. You can still land Omer Asik and guys of his caliber. That is, underrated players with minimal upside. I understand the stance behind the Rockets' policy, but it does certainly hinder the team in the free agent market and forces the building up of assets. Make no mistake: even if Morey is fired, as long as Les keeps this policy then no GM can ever do more than what the Boy Genius has done.
Morey spent years talking about assets and how that was the best way for the Rockets to obtain a franchise player. Really though, it was the only way. Now with loads of cap room he can try to start fresh and recruit players.
Which brings us back to Jeremy Lin.
Lin is easily the biggest free agent popularity-wise to switch teams this offseason. ESPN devoted approximately 1 billion articles and 2 billion minutes of airtime to his departure from New York, even doing a Six Degrees of Separation piece involving six factors that determined Lin's move. Heck, even Chris Broussard tried to enunciate during the whole thing, so you know it was serious.
So if Lin gets traded, ESPN goes nuts. Now we all know Morey doesn't (and shouldn't) care what ESPN says about him. But the repercussions of such a move will give Morey pause and ultimately convince him not to pull the trigger on any Lin deals unless Lin demands a trade.
Will any free agent ever want to come here if Lin gets shipped after all this drama? I don't think so. In fact, players will be even more willing to sign with the Miamis, New Yorks, and Lakers of the league. After all, if I'm a player who knows he's always on the trading block, I might as well go to someplace where I can enjoy myself during my brief stay. And unless you love theater or MLS soccer (sometimes and yes for me), there's no way Houston can compete with those playgrounds disguised as cities.
So Morey's going to have to get used to holding onto a player for more than a season or two. Because he's in this one for the long haul.