5 Worst Decisions of Daryl Morey's Houston Rockets Era
Daryl Morey became the general manager of the Houston Rockets in 2007, and his six-year tenure has seen its fair share of ups and downs. He's made some great moves as GM (i.e. the James Harden trade), but he's also made some questionable calls along the way.
During his tenure, the Rockets have made the playoffs just once and have been a lottery team each of the past three seasons.
That streak will almost assuredly end in 2012-13, as the Rockets are the No. 8 team in the Western Conference with the playoffs looming closer every day.
Regardless, some of the moves Morey has made as GM have prevented this team from getting back to the playoffs even sooner.
He's made many head-scratching acquisitions, and an even more baffling non-acquisition.
Morey has the Rockets moving in the right direction this season, but their rise could have occurred a few seasons earlier if he hadn't made some bad decisions.
1. July 19, 2007: The Rockets Sign Steve Francis
Steve "Stevie Franchise" Francis was the cornerstone of the Rockets franchise from 1999-2004. He averaged 19.3 points, 6.4 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game during those five seasons and was the focal point of the team's post-Hakeem Olajuwon era.
He was shipped off to the Orlando Magic after the 2003-04 season in a deal that netted the Rockets Tracy McGrady and experienced several knee injuries after the deal.
Fast forward to the 2007-08 season, and Francis was a free agent looking to make a return to the team that he played so well with to begin his career.
Morey was more than willing to bring him aboard, saying, "When you have a chance to add a talent like Steve who really fits what coach (Rick Adelman) is trying to do, you do it."
Francis eventually signed for $6 million and was eager to get on the court on play.
The best way to describe his season can be with one word—disappointing.
Francis played just 10 games, averaging 5.5 points per game on just 33.3 percent shooting. He was so bad that he even converted just 56.5 percent of his free throws, a number far below his career average of 79.7 percent.
This move didn't set the Rockets franchise back in terms of future success, but it was a move by Morey that was made solely on Francis's past.
Had he analyzed his level of play from the previous three seasons (and the declining health of his knee), Morey would have known not to offer him a contract.
2. June 27, 2008: The Rockets Trade Draft Rights to Nicolas Batum
Just a few hours after drafting forward Nicolas Batum with the No. 25 pick in the draft, Morey shipped him off to the Portland Trail Blazers (as a part of a three-team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies).
In return, the Rockets received Donte Greene (the player who they really wanted from the draft) and University of Memphis product Joey Dorsey.
Morey obviously didn't have any previous statistics or NBA play to look at when trading Batum, but his scouting department obviously failed him with this one.
Batum has improved literally every season since 2008-09 and has become one of the best players on the Blazers.
This season, he's dropping 15.4 points, grabbing 5.9 rebounds and dishing out 4.9 assists in 38.8 minutes per game.
Batum is one of the most complete young players in the NBA today, and Morey should be kicking himself for letting him go.
Might I add that Dorsey hasn't played since 2010-11 and Greene hasn't played a single game this season? Yeah, I think I will.
3. Aug. 6, 2008: The Rockets Trade Steve Novak
Steve Novak is one the best three-point shooters in the game today as a member of the New York Knicks.
He led the league in 2011-12 with a 47.2 percentage from beyond the arc and is currently checking in at 44.3 percent. For his career, he boasts a strong mark of 43.8 percent.
Novak broke into the league as a member of the Rockets, but he wasn't utilized very much by then-head coach Jeff Van Gundy. He averaged just 6.5 minutes per game in two seasons with the club, but was not nearly utilized well enough.
That's not the fault of Morey, but trading him away was definitely not a good decision.
Immediately after being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, Novak played 16.9 minutes and made 2.5 threes per contest. That led to a 41.6 percentage from three—a number that's low by his standards.
Novak is now one of the best-shooting big men in the league and is a threat whenever he gets the ball in the corner. Novak can knock 'em down with the best of them, and he would have been a valuable weapon on the current Rockets roster.
4. March 15, 2012: Rockets Acquire Derek Fisher—then Waive Him 4 Days Later
On March 15, 2012, the Rockets acquired veteran point guard Derek Fisher for big man Jordan Hill and a conditional first-round pick.
Fisher, the leader of the Los Angeles Lakers clubhouse, was unexpectedly traded to a Houston team with no chance at making the playoffs.
Luckily for him, he was a member of the Rockets for a mere four days.
On March 19, Fisher was officially waived by the Rockets. He received a buyout from Houston because his "desire to win a sixth championship is what drives him and will continue to drive him as he moves forward."
He eventually signed with the Oklahoma City Thunder and was an integral piece to their NBA Finals run.
So, essentially, Morey traded Hill for just a first-round pick. Maybe he should have inquired as to whether Fisher would have wanted to play for a losing team before pulling the trigger.
5. Offseason After 2011-12 Season: Morey Stockpiles Picks
Dwight Howard was infamously hoping to make his way out of Orlando after the 2011-12, and there were countless teams vying to acquire his services.
Morey was one of the many general managers interested, and he did quite the job of stockpiling the draft picks necessary to make a run at the game's top center.
Such a package would have definitely been enough to acquire Howard from the Magic. Throw in a few players and the Magic should have been begging Morey to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Unfortunately for Morey, the Rockets were never close to a trade with Orlando and the picks were not used as originally planned.
Houston ended up doing well with the picks, but Morey really built up the hopes of Rockets fans only to bring them right back down again. On a team that hadn't had a real superstar since Tracy McGrady, such an action wasn't appreciated by the fans.