Controversial and acclaimed in equal measure, Daryl Morey He has been one of the most recognizable faces of law firms in the NBA throughout the last decade and especially in the last five years. His work leading the Houston Rockets led the franchise to a Conference Finals for the first time in 18 seasons and was just one win away from taking down the mighty Golden State Warriors de 2018. An executive with a very particular work methodology that would eventually expand to the rest of the league thanks to the use of a series of tools unknown until his arrival, such as advanced statistics.
Morey turned the Texas team into a vanguard franchise in the use, understanding and application of analytics, from which they would make their sports decisions, a method that little by little would become common in the NBA.
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Arrived in 2006 as assistant to the then General Manager, Carroll Dawson, the following year he would act as sports director of the Rockets, a franchise that had proven unable to overcome the first round despite having players of the stature of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming or Shane Battier and that in just two years in the position would be able to fulfill, falling at the hands of the eventual champions of that course, Los Angeles Lakers, in the seventh game. Since then, Morey would truly start his project by acquiring assets in exchange for high contracts and drafting unknown players without losing his competitive spirit because under his command they never got below 50% of wins Y they were always in the Playoffs except in three seasons (2010-2012).
The move by James Harden would change everything for the Rockets, ushering in a new era that saw its end recently with the elimination against the Lakers, the resignation of Mike D’Antoni and Morey himself just a few days ago. An executive who leaves no one indifferent, polarizing like no one and always with an open mind to change, Daryl Morey ends his time in Houston without having won the championship but having placed the franchise in a privileged place in the Conference West.
1 – Start of reconstruction
The defeat in the second round in 2009 was a major step forward for the project, but it made one thing clear: Tracy McGrady could no longer be a part of him. Only 101 games played out of 166 possible and the great performance shown by Aaron Brooks in the postseason reinforced the idea of the end of the cycle. To this it was possible to add that the battered knees of Yao Ming they wouldn’t last much longer on a basketball court, and despite their astonishing impact, it was unthinkable to see the Chinese giant continue to duel night after night with the Rockets as well.
This is how Daryl Morey decided to carry out a transfer with which he would start a time of reconstruction and reformulation of the project with a very risky move:
- Houston recibe: Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries and a 2012 first round (Royce White); Hilton Armstrong and Kevin Martin (Kings)
- Sacramento receives: Joey Dorsey y Carl Landry (Rockets); Larry Hughes (Knicks)
- New York recibe: Tracy McGrady (Rockets), Sergio Rodríguez (Kings)
After playing only 6 games at the start of the 2009-2010 season, T-Mac had that year left on his contract and Houston was eager for salary space given the terrible course they were taking after the departure of Ron Artest the previous summer. In this way Morey managed to send him to the Knicks in exchange for a lot of secondary players, also shedding the young Carl Landry who had given good feelings in the preceding years.
“This agreement is about building a team, players who can help us now and in the future,” he said after the movement with which they released 9 million in salaries. “We are excited about how this prepares us for now and especially for next year.”
As of that day in February, Morey would initiate an offensive from the offices that would take him to make 17 transfers by players or draft assets before finally landing your long-awaited star. Along the way, the Rockets came to have Goran Dragic, DeMarre Carroll, Marcus Morris or Kyle Lowry among many others.
In the sports part, Houston languished at that time, without being able to qualify for the Playoffs but always remaining in the fight to enter, achieving a cumulative balance of 119-111 (51%).
2 – The transfer by James Harden
The most important moment in recent Rockets history since they drafted Yao Ming was the day they Oklahoma City Thunder decided not to extend the contract to James Harden, at which point Daryl Morey sent an important offer to convince OKC to trade for the pearl of his bench. Harden would soon prove in Texas that he had the soul of a star and that he was ready to take the next step in his game, leading the franchise back to the postseason before falling into it at the hands of his former team.
He October 27, 2012As soon as the regular season started and as a result of negotiations frustrated by his renewal, the Rockets got La Barba in exchange for:
- Houston recibe: James Harden, Daequan Cook, Lazar Hayward y Cole Aldrich.
- OKC recibe: Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, a 2012 first round (Steven Adams), a 2013 second round (Álex Abrines) and a 2014 first round (Mitch McGary).
In hindsight, the price paid by the Rockets for acquiring an MVP and a potential Hall of Famer was extremely low as Lamb would not finish emerging, Martin was in the twilight of his career and only Steven Adams would end up having a notable impact on his project .
Harden immediately became the franchise player, taking part in the All-Star Game for the first time and leading the team to the Playoffs for the next eight years in a meteoric rise that would make him one of the most recognizable faces in the game. league. It is indisputable that the move for Harden was a success for Morey who saw in him something that few intuited, visualizing in him a scorer with unique characteristics and always surrounding him with the best companions he could find.
Just Hakeem Olajuwon (26,511) has scored more points than the shooting guard (18,167) who has won the NBA’s leading scorer title in the last three seasons In which he has always been a finalist in the MVP, which he won in 2018, the first since Hakeem himself and the third in the history of Houston (the first was Moses Malone). He is also the highest all-time assistant with 4713, ahead of Calvin Murphy or Allen Leavell.
3 – All by Chris Paul
The disappointment suffered after the attempt to bring together James Harden and Dwight Howard along with a cast of secondary and defensive specialists, coupled with the emergence of a historic power in the West like the Golden State Warriors forced Morey to a change of cycle that would define his next five years. Far from bringing down the project while waiting for Californians to fall under their own weight, the Rockets bet everything on their idea based on the new coach who had arrived, Mike D’Antoni, who in just one course had made it clear that he could lead the Rockets to their next stadium.
Taking advantage of the dismantling of the LA Clippers, Morey managed to shed a wide range of assets and then minor players to find a star who truly fit the system: Chris Paul.
- Houston recibe: Chris Paul
- Clippers recibe: Patrick Beverley, Sam Dekker, Montrezl Harrell, Darrun Hilliard, DeAndre Liggins, Lou Williams, Kyle Wiltjer, $ 661,000 cash and a 2018 first round (Omari Spellman).
Immediately, the Rockets went on to become a steamroller in the 2017-2018 regular season and the Warriors’ main rival. The union of Paul and Harden proved to be a perfect fit, with CP3 being the best companion the guard has ever had in his entire career. Along the way, the “birth” of Clint Capela joined in, overtaking veteran Nene in the rotation and being one of the most useful players due to his blocking functions and one of the most efficient with the ball in the hands of the entire team.
Morey bet big and risked to lead the Rockets to the top and the team was 48 minutes away from taking down the strongest team the league has known in the last 15 years. After getting 3-2 in the Conference Finals against Warriors, Paul was injured for the next game that his rivals would win, forcing a seventh that would go down in history due to its unusual development. The 11-point income with which D’Antoni’s men went to rest vanished in the blink of an eye due to the 20 consecutive missed triples in one of the most decisive collective collapses in recent times.
The project around the duo would be given a new opportunity, but the relationship between the two deteriorated and the core of the team was losing the defensive impact it once had, being eliminated again by Golden State despite the fact that Kevin Durant was injured. over the course of the series.
4 – No pivots
After a desperate move to revive the project in which Chris Paul ended up at OKC in exchange for Russell Westbrook, the team’s performance still fell short of what Morey and D’Antoni had hoped for. Many problems of coexistence on the court between their inside and outside games, as well as a considerable deterioration in the team’s defensive performance were some of the reasons that led Houston to make the most risky, bizarre and avant-garde transfer in a long time in an operation that involved to 4 teams and
- Houston recibe: Jordan Bell and Robert Covington (Wolves); 2026 second round (Hawks)
- Atlanta receives: Clint Capela (Rockets)
- Minnesota recibe: Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt y Juancho Hernangómez (Nuggets); Evan Turner (Hawks)
- Denver receives: Gerald Green and a 2020 second round (Rockets); Keita Bates-Diop, Shabazz Napier and Noah Vonleh (Wolves)
The movement was the confirmation of an open secret since Houston would from now on play without a single pivot, not only by position, but by height, frontally rejecting tradition and breaking the ideological barrier that had always characterized this sport in its track performance. Morey’s Rockets thus placed themselves at the forefront of the league, with a pure small ball and expanding their defensive potential considerably, as well as becoming an unpredictable offensive team due to the amount of resources. This transfer was followed by small firms such as Jeff Green, DeMarre Carroll or Bruno Caboclo who helped complete a strange squad at first glance but with all the sense in the world around an idea and interpretation of the game.
This decision opened the field for Russell Westbrook who from February to March woke up from his slumber, being one of the top scorers in the paint in the entire league while Harden was confirmed as the top scorer once again in the competition. The suspension of the season and the restart in the bubble seemed to increase the chances that the Rockets would surprise but Westbrook’s injury and the fact of facing the eventual champions such as the Lakers truncated his dream of the ring, ending the road. Daryl Morey as GM of the team.
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