Earlier today, Rockets GM Daryl Morey answered some questions on Reddit about his managing and the future of the Houston franchise.
This exchange was later confirmed on his Twitter account: Fans asked candid questions, and Morey gave very honest answers. This is the most revealing he has been in his six years as the Rockets general manager.
Although some of the questions asked were about the Rockets past, most of it focused on the recently acquired players Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik and the direction that the Rockets were heading towards.
The Rockets acquired Lin in a much discussed signing of $25 million over three-years. Lin played for the New York Knicks last season and led them to a season high seven game winning streak as superstar Carmelo Anthony was out due to an injury, and Amare Stoudemire was unable to play due to the death of his brother.
Omer Asik was offered the same contract over the same three-years. Much of the NBA world is split over whether or not this was a good decision. Morey explains the reasons for the team’s decision to make those offers.
“Lin played at an All-Star level last year. Even if he does not maintain that level (likely), both he and Asik increase our flexibility and get us closer to our goals. I also like that Lin has already played for a small yet not insignificant stretch at an All-Star level. This increases his odds—up and down the roster that is the primary thing we are trying to do—increase our odds of developing or acquiring an All-Star level player...Omer Asik has the potential to play at an All-Star level on defense. We will see if he does.
The Rockets lost the face of their franchise when Yao Ming retired. It’s no secret that with Ming playing for the Rockets, they acquired many Asian fans; however Morey dispelled any ideas that Jeremy Lin was brought in for marketing reasons, explaining that the Rockets were looking at Lin purely from a basketball standpoint.
"He definitely has a large off the court footprint but it did not factor into the investment I recommended to the owner we make on him."
In acquiring Lin, the Rockets received one of the most talked-about players this off-season, a definite fan favorite, and if he continues to perform as he did in New York, an all-star in the making.
Morey, however is cautiously optimistic—and he should be. It's better to have a cautious GM who has backup plans than one who's too optimistic and stops planning because he thinks he has already made all the necessary moves.
Teams such as OKC sat at the bottom of the standings for years before being able to draft good players in Durant and Westbrook. Now they are a force in the league. Although the Rockets acquired great rookies this year in Royce White, Jeremy Lamb, and Terrence Jones, Morey insists that is not how he wants the Rockets to succeed.
“Being an extremely crappy team is definitely a well worn path to success in the NBA. Each year, the NBA hands the most valuable asset in the game (a scale wage top-five pick) and hands it to the most mismanaged teams. We could go with this approach (in fact the Rockets invented it long ago) but we think our approach can succeed as well and can succeed faster even though it is more difficult.”
Morey’s approach is definitely more exciting to watch as a fan, but it doesn’t hurt that Houston may have made the best draft picks of any team this year.
Royce White led his NCAA team in assists, points, rebounds and steals--the only division one player to do so. Jeremy Lamb was the star in Houston’s Summer League averaging 20 points a game, and Terrence Jones may be the most underrated player in the draft.
Before acquiring Jeremy Lin, the Rockets made moves that saw them lose their two point guards in Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. Many fans decried these moves; with no real point guard on the roster, it seemed Houston was making the wrong decisions. Although they were great players, Morey explains that those roster changes were done for the best interest in the franchise.
”The guaranteed lottery pick we received from Toronto for Lowry is more valuable in acquiring an all-star level player. Dragic wanted a player option (that Phoenix gave him) which greatly harms a players value and will almost always lead us away from No. 2. A player option essentially guarantees that a team ends up with either a free agent (not valuable) or a player who the league thinks is not valuable and blocks your salary cap flexibility.”
The way the roster stands right now, the Rockets are a very young team. Some would look at it negatively and say that it is a very inexperienced team with a lack of leadership. However, you can also say that it’s a team with immense potential.
A team that’s not just capable of winning now, but also in the future.
“We definitely have a chance at the playoffs. It is a stretch goal but it is a realistic goal and would be great for the franchise as it would likely mean that 1+ of our players have developed into all-star level players.”
I was pleased at his responses. They were honest and gave me some insight on Morey's thought process.
Despite his caution, he believes the Rockets have a chance at the playoffs and so do I.
As a fan of basketball, Houston will be a very exciting team to watch. As a Rockets fan, I can’t wait for the first game.