So, I can't be the only person who is kind of tired of the Dwight Howard obsession and frankly, I wouldn't mind seeing something other than that grace the top of The Dreamshake. In the interest of restoring some semblance of sanity and Rockets-centered content I'll wrap up my player report card series. Today we'll take a look at the last man standing, the king of the hill, Daryl Morey.
Daryl was named the Assistant General Manager in 2006 and assumed full control of the position in 2007. Daryl has given us a whirlwind of moves, looks, and philosophies since then. Arguably, Daryl is responsible for the analytics movement in basketball and in conjunction with guys like Marc Cuban he has pioneered the moneyball approach to sports as well. Daryl chairs the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference every year, which delves into the sabermetric approach to sports. Ultimately Daryl's tenure with the Rockets has fluctuated between the hopeful, the questionable, and the outright kingly. Let's take a look at Daryl in 2012-2013.
The Rockets entered the season with four Rockets from the 2011-2012 season on the roster. On the eve of the season Daryl acquired James Harden and by the mid-season he trimmed that number of incumbent Rockets to two (Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith). In his seven years on the job there has not been a quiet trade deadline for the Rockets nor has there been an offseason without the Rockets being mentioned in the national media (Despite constant complaints of disrespect in said coverage). Houston is always front and center when discussing landing spots for free agents or trades. The ability to be so active without consistently depleting his team marks Daryl Morey among one of the best at his trade in the NBA.
Cashing in. October 27, 2012 a phone call is completed to Oklahoma City. The person on the other end of the phone is Sam Presti who recently made an extension offer to James Harden that was refused. In contemplation of a major offer to Serge Ibaka Presti has decided that Daryl Morey should be rewarded for his years of "asset collecting". Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, the Toronto lottery pick, and the Dallas Mavericks pick make their way to Oklahoma City. Cole Aldrich and James Harden board a plane to Houston. We did it. We found our franchise player. Within two weeks that very same James Harden has cashed in a five year-$80 million deal. Houston has searched for three long years to find a player to replace either Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming and finally that search was at an end. To make it all more appealing, Daryl did it in a way that was right on par with what he had always done. He took advantage of a team that was in a bind. Ruthless.
Timing. We're not entirely sure whether or not it would have made a difference but the mid-season trade that shipped out the power forward rotation brought back Thomas Robinson and Francisco Garcia. The question remains whether or not it would have been worth retaining Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, and Toney Douglas (We will not mention Cole Aldrich as a contributor) for the rest of the season. The question remains as to whether or not Robinson will be a casualty of the Dwightmare but Douglas was contributing and Patterson and Morris were settled into their roles. Ultimately the payoff of Thomas Robinson was enough to make the deal make sense and Francisco Garcia, who was considered the throw-in on the deal, easily made the deal make sense. At the end of the day if timing is the bad part here and the trade was a good one long term then I don't see how this can really harm the guy.
NBA Offseason Awards. How did Daryl Morey not receive Executive of the Year? The man gutted the roster, acquired a franchise star, pulled off a mid-season trade where his entire power forward rotation left town, and still saw his team make the playoffs. A lot of credit of that goes to a coach who dealt with that adversity and his own well-chronicled difficulties but Daryl was the architect. Masai Ujiri won the award by gifting away a player in a large trade that didn't even see his team land the prize of the trade. The NBA focuses on star power and the award goes to a man whose team lacks a star. Please, let that sink in. Daryl Morey put on a clinic on how to make a team appear from borderline thin air and Collective Bargaining Agreement acumen and he didn't get the award. The NBA should truly be ashamed and re-think who they give votes to for this thing.
Grade: A+ and a massive slap in the face to Daryl.
Daryl Morey is the kind of GM that you need to be thankful runs your team. He's on par with guys like RC Buford not because of his long-term success but because of his brilliant approach to team building and roster maintenance. I was on Daryl's case as much as anyone about cohesiveness and continuity in a team and Daryl finally had the opportunity to establish that. The payoff, we hope, will be seen this coming year and for several years beyond that. He broke open analytics in basketball and pioneered the way to work around the Collective Bargaining Agreement all while putting together a team in a way that has never been done before. The innovator always earns it.
You don't get to vote on this because anything less than an A would earn you a perma-ban and I don't feel like swinging the hammer.