In Morey We Trust? Not So Much.

Apr 2, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the Houston Rockets logo during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Rockets defeated the Mavericks 108-101. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the Houston Rockets logo during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. The Rockets defeated the Mavericks 108-101. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

I don’t trust Daryl Morey anymore.

“In Morey we trust.” It’s been the rallying cry for a Houston Rockets fanbase desperate for relevance for years. In the past, when fans tired of Morey’s tinkering at the fringes – generally “gathering assets” and making almost no noise at the trade deadline – fans clung to the notion that Morey was setting up his coup de grace. It’s a chess match that requires long game planning, right?

Well, Morey delivered James Harden on my birthday back in 2012. In the years since, Morey signed Dwight Howard and put together a roster that managed to make it to the Western Conference finals. That WCF appearance was bookended by a disappointing first round loss the year before and yet another first round bounce the year after.

Morey has been at the helm of the Houston Rockets since 2007. Throughout that tenure, no basketball contracts exceed six years and most deals typically average around four years. This is important because it emphasizes that under Morey, this team has had the chance to cycle its cap and create flexibility. Although Morey had the albatross deals of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady when he took over, there’s really no need to exalt his efforts anymore given the time frame.

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  • Over time, Morey was finally able to make good on all of his tinkering and delivered James Harden. That coup was followed with the signing of Dwight Howard. Finally, the Rockets looked to be set. The pieces were in place. Unfortunately, this victory was fairly short-lived and, ultimately, proof that success is fleeting.

    After a disappointing start to the season, Morey acquiesced to public pressure and fired Kevin McHale. What ensued was a nightmare for most Rockets fans still high off the previous season’s fantastic high. The Rockets, after all, had a legitimate MVP candidate in tow and seemed to have a stable direction for the first time in years. Unfortunately, the team entered the season lethargic and largely out of shape. This tailspin really set the tone for the year.

    In the wake of a lost season, Morey oversaw the hiring of Mike D’Antoni, rumored desperate overtures to talk Dwight back into the Rockets, signed Ryan Anderson (The fulfillment of fan infatuation of three years ago), and Eric Gordon (A fantastic shooting guard but for his time on injured reserve). These signings, predicated on shooting and small-ball, emphasize a few truths that Rockets fans are going to have to acknowledge.

    The Rockets aren’t innovating anymore. In a copycat league, the Rockets used to push new theories. The organization was one of the earliest to rely on analytics and pieced together a team based on formulas rather than old school basketball. With the success of the Golden State Warriors’ small ball and run approach, the Rockets are loading up to do the same. Rather than piece together an effective counter, the Rockets have decided to recreate the Warriors without the Warriors roster. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it’s the funeral dirge of originality.  Sure, the Rockets may be fun to watch but a title is more fun to have.

    The Rockets don’t care about their deficiencies. Mike D’Antoni, pioneer of the seven seconds or less offense in Phoenix takes the helm in Houston. The roster is being built to pursue quick shots, floor spacing and small-ball. Of all the things the Rockets lacked, offense and shooting, while stagnant at times, was never a real deficiency for the team. Defensive discipline and rebounding, however, seems to be a foreign concept in Houston. While Morey will get some credit for the failed attempt at Kent Bazemore, it was still a failed attempt and the roster currently houses two to three honest defenders – Patrick Beverley, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela.

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    Daryl Morey is most likely not in control anymore. Perhaps this is why I don’t trust Morey anymore. Les Alexander fired Kevin McHale. Les Alexander wants an entertaining team. Daryl Morey wants to build a winner. If Les won’t allow Daryl to work, then I doubt, very much, the likelihood that Morey is worth trusting. Very little good ever comes from a meddling owner – ask Cowboys fans. Morey is tasked with accommodating the sort of team that D’Antoni wants on the floor and that Les believes will sell tickets and keep fans watching.

    The Rockets are back on the mediocrity treadmill. Make no mistake about it. This team will score a lot. They will also fail to stop opposing players. While the offense will produce, it will be susceptible to an off night. The first year may show a little more fire due to the need to make good on “locker room material” written in the offseason, in the long term, the Rockets face some organizational uncertainty that raises questions. If Alexander is calling the shots, how does that influence the dynamic with Morey? If the team hits another losing skid who gets the boot? How long of a leash does D’Antoni have if the team skids or starts slow again?

    At the end of the day, I can’t trust in Daryl Morey anymore. Morey doesn’t have the reigns of this organization and, if he does, he’s steering it off a cliff in a desperate attempt to chase the Warriors. Effectively, “In Morey we trust” has become a self-soothing mantra not necessarily predicated in reality.

    Next: Rockets Add Another Shooter In Eric Gordon

    NBA Free Agency is officially underway and expect the Rockets to be involved in many rumors over the next few weeks.

    Click here for more on the Rockets’ offseason.