Houston GM Daryl Morey Admits Rockets Tried to Trade for Dirk Nowitzki

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistMarch 2, 2014

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Never say Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey didn't try.

While appearing on a panel at the 2014 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, Morey admitted that he phoned Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban about a possible Dirk Nowitzki trade over the summer.

From Pro Basketball Talk's Brett Pollakoff:

“This is where my emotion takes over,” Morey said. “I go into a complete panic. I really did. I thought it was down to us, Dallas, L.A.”

So Morey called Mark Cuban to try and poach his franchise superstar.

“I was like, ‘Well, you’re not getting Dwight Howard. Can you trade us Dirk Nowitzki?’” Morey said. “It was a bad moment for me.”

A really bad moment, considering that Howard had already informed Dallas that he was signing elsewhere, even though Morey hadn’t been made aware of his decision just yet.

Morey's desperation was apparently in response to the Golden State Warriors' acquisition of Andre Iguodala. He thought his arrival made the Warriors favorites to land Dwight Howard.

The Warriors didn't have the cap space to sign Howard outright, but they had the assets necessary to broker a sign-and-trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. Iguodala arguably made someone like Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes expendable, so his fear wasn't necessarily unfounded. 

But what Morey did was gutsy, if not completely ignorant.

Nowitzki is about as untouchable a player there is in the NBA. No matter what Morey was offering Dallas, some part of him had to know that Cuban wasn't going to deal him.

Not to mention his initial approach was somewhat tactless.

Reminding or informing Cuban that he was going to miss out on Howard would never help advance negotiations. All it was ever going to do was send Cuban into a fit of rage.

Which is exactly what it did.

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 25: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks shares a hug with team owner Mark Cuban as the Mavericks received their 2010-2011 NBA Championship rings prior to a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on January 25, 2012 at the Ameri
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Back in November, Cuban told ESPN Dallas' Tim MacMahon about Morey's Nowitzki-related inquiry, and Cuban wasn't happy.

"Definitely. And I don't blame them," Cuban said when asked if he thought Houston was rubbing its acquisition of Howard in his face. "That's fine. But payback is a b---h."

Maybe Cuban can now forgive Morey knowing it wasn't a brazen attempt at damaging his ego. Or perhaps he will be even more angry knowing that a team so readily prepared to panic landed Howard.

Whatever the case, Morey can rest easy knowing it all worked out. The Rockets have Howard and are battling for a top-three spot in the Western Conference. Mavericks fans, meanwhile, can breathe a sigh of relief knowing Nowitzki is still untouchable as ever. 

And we must all applaud the ever-emotional Cuban for not resorting to vengeful tactics in response to Morey's desperate inquiry, like spiking the Rockets' Gatorade coolers will Excedrin P.M. or lining Houston's uniforms with maple seeds—or something like that. 

We're proud of you, Mark...for now.