Daryl Morey is thought of as one of the NBA’S best GM’s. Has his shortsighted quest for superstars actually hurt the Houston Rockets more than it’s helped?
Daryl Morey has always been at the forefront of NBA thinkers in his time with Houston. With limited assets, seemingly zero cap room, and always a few untraceable contracts he manages to still build contending rosters. The foundation of his strategy is based on two core beliefs. The first, emphasis on three-point shooting and efficiency, has become the norm now negating any advantage it provided before. The second was that you must have multiple superstars to win in today’s NBA.
While the latter is true, his attempts at creating super-teams have consistently come up short. Whether it was getting Dwight Howard or Chris Paul a few years too late, David Stern nixing a deal that would have netted him Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, or getting Russell Westbrook it never seems to work out.
In the process, a slew of solid rotation players has been dealt with in attempts to create a super team. Goran Dragic, Clint Capela, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, Pat Beverley, and many others have cycled in and out of Houston leaving the team top-heavy and capped out. Houston is a playoff team every year thanks to their stars but the lack of depth haunts them every postseason.
If you trace back the Russell Westbrook acquisition in particular you can see how this strategy leaves the team with almost no assets over time. Initially, Beverly, Harrell, Williams, three cap filler players and a 1st rounder went to LA in exchange for Chris Paul. After the Paul experiment fizzled he was dealt with OKC along with FOUR 1st round picks in exchange for Westbrook.
So Morey turned a solid point guard, a great roll man, and a sixth man of the year into an aging All
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NBA player with a huge contract. Then after the aging player repeatedly had his injuries derail the season Morey decided to move on. Unfortunately, Paul’s deal was bad he had to trade away the only assets he still had (the picks) to get Westbrook. So to end up with Westbrook, Daryl Morey actually dealt Williams, Harrell, Beverley and FIVE 1st rounders.
The Rockets are now built around two ball-dominant guards and shooters to space the floor. They can’t rebound or defend and Westbrook’s game is built entirety around his athleticism and he’s about to turn 32. This is not a team positioned for long term success and they’re probably not good enough to beat the Clippers or Lakers this year. So what has Morey actually accomplished?
Daryl Morey does a great job of single moves at the moment. He finds a way to move the unmovable contract, or get Robert Covington when he has limited assets, etc. Each move on their own is fine, but he never seems to see the long term impact of his deals.
Now that shortsightedness is about to leave the franchise in a 5th or 5th seed purgatory for the foreseeable future. The team will be too good to bottom out, but not be good enough to truly contend, and they won’t have the assets to improve. Morey got his superstars, but he won’t be getting his championship.