Rockets Rumors: Daryl Morey Left over Concerns About Keeping James Harden Happy

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 3, 2021

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, left, and newly acquired guard James Harden pose for photographers at an NBA basketball news conference, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Houston. Morey officially introduced Harden on Monday. Harden joined Houston in a stunning trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Pat Sullivan/Associated Press

Former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey reportedly decided to leave the organization because of concerns about whether he would be able to keep James Harden happy.

According to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, sources within the Rockets organization believe Morey made a "preemptive decision" by stepping down as GM this past offseason and joining the Philadelphia 76ers as their president of basketball operations.

Sources told MacMahon that Morey anticipated Harden becoming unhappy since the team didn't have the draft capital necessary to make significant changes to the roster during the offseason.

Morey's reported fears proved prophetic, as Harden refused to sign a contract extension with the Rockets, resulting in Houston trading him to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a four-team deal.

Morey entered the NBA in 2002 as part of the Boston Celtics front office before taking the job as Rockets assistant GM in 2006. By 2007, Morey succeeded Carroll Dawson as the team's general manager.

In Morey's 13 seasons as Rockets GM, Houston reached the playoffs 10 times and made it as far as the Western Conference Finals twice.

The biggest move of Morey's time in Houston was undoubtedly the acquisition of Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012.

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Harden went from being a really good supporting cast member on a Thunder team that reached the NBA Finals to a legitimate superstar who was named an All-Star in each of his eight seasons as a member of the Rockets.

With Harden in the fold, Houston reached the playoffs in eight straight seasons. Harden also achieved no shortage of individual accolades, winning three straight scoring titles from 2017-18 through 2019-20, and an MVP award in 2018.

Despite Harden's excellence, the Rockets were never quite able to break through with an NBA Finals appearance, and it became apparent that there was no way for the front office to tweak the team enough to change that in 2020-21.

After Morey left, the Rockets signed forward Christian Wood and center DeMarcus Cousins in addition to trading guard Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for guard John Wall, but Harden seemingly wasn't convinced that it would be enough to get the Rockets over the hump.

With Harden clearly unhappy, the Rockets sent Harden somewhere that he has a chance to win immediately.

Harden has meshed well with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Brooklyn thus far, and with a record of 23-13, they are second in the Eastern Conference.

The only team the Nets are trailing in the East is Morey's Sixers, who own the No. 1 seed in the conference with a 23-12 record.

Meanwhile, the Rockets own the second-worst record in the Western Conference at just 11-22.