Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey seems rather pleased at the effective demise of tanking in the NBA.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on Thursday that the league has officially passed a reform measure that will change the draft lottery odds beginning in 2019 to effectively de-incentivize bottoming out for a top pick.
The NBA's Board of Governors passed draft lottery reform today, league sources tell ESPN. New rules will start with 2019 Draft.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 28, 2017
Here is an ESPN graphic on how NBA Draft lottery odds change in 2019 pic.twitter.com/Jk8X7q0J3Z
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 28, 2017
Shortly after the news broke, Morey tweeted a shot at ex-Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie, who had become the poster child for the tanking movement.
@samhinkie tanking is solved
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) September 28, 2017
Hinkie is actually a Morey disciple having worked under him for several years in the Houston front office before going off on his own to Philly, so perhaps this is just some good-natured ribbing. Then again, Morey, who has always emphasized competitive basketball, does enjoy social media shade, and it looks like Hinkie is his latest victim on the Twitter dot com roasting block.
Is that the savory smell of a growing Los Angeles Clippers-Houston Rockets rivalry emitting through the air?
In an interview with Ben Golliver of SI’s The Crossover that ran on Monday, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey questioned whether the NBA should ditch the practice of handing out awards altogether.
“I don’t know if this is a good process,” said Morey. “The ones that are decided by players, executives, or media, they all have their strengths and weaknesses. I honestly don’t think there’s a good process. You could argue for eliminating the awards altogether.
“I don’t really see a good way to do it that doesn’t have major issues,” he went on. “I like clean answers. If there’s not gonna be set criteria and there’s gonna be issues with how it’s structured, for me it might be better to not have it.”
Morey’s piping hot take caught the attention of Clippers big man Blake Griffin, who jokingly tweeted in response that perhaps the NBA should just eliminate championships as well while they’re at it.
honestly, we should do away with championships too. seems dumb to me. participation trophies for everybody. don't @ me https://t.co/Hdnow9GoQO
— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) July 31, 2017
There’s little doubt that Morey’s point of view was shaped by his star player James Harden’s second-place finish to Russell Westbrook in MVP voting, something he has griped about before. But perhaps the more interesting subplot here is that after the 2015 Western Conference Semifinals and Chris Paul’s defection to Houston, we now have more evidence that the rivalry quotient between the Clippers and the Rockets is slowly increasing.
The Houston Rockets proved when they traded for Chris Paul that they are committed to assembling a contending team around James Harden, and general manager Daryl Morey feels they have done just that.
Assuming Paul and Harden can coexist, we know the Rockets are going to score plenty of points. They were second in the NBA last year with 115.3 points per game, but it’s the potential for improved defense that has Morey excited. The GM expects the signing of veteran forward P.J. Tucker to a four-year, $34 million deal to be a big help on that end of the floor.
“Just what this team needs,” Morey said Thursday, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “We were able to talk with (Paul) and James and coach D’Antoni and say what do we really need for this team. Unanimous (opinion) was we need toughness, we need defense. P.J. brings that in spades.
“We’re trying to get our defense into the top 10. Obviously, our offense was historic. Getting Nene back, getting P.J. are two huge steps in that direction.”
The Rockets allowed 109.6 points per game last season, which was fifth-worst in the NBA. Not being able to get stops was the main reason they lost 4-2 to the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semis. We can only imagine how many points the Warriors would have put up on Houston if San Antonio scored 120-plus in three of six games.
Whatever the Warriors could have scored against the Rockets last season, Morey is confident it would be a lot less against his current roster.
“They’re one of the best teams ever,” he said. “We obviously felt we needed to close the gap. We felt we have closed the gap. They’re the ones with two rings in the last three years. You have to say they’re going to be the favorites going in. We feel like this is a group that can compete with them.”
With Paul George having been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the West is as loaded as ever. Morey even cracked a funny joke about that recently. The Rockets will have a lot of work to do before they can think about challenging the Warriors. Tightening up on defense is a great place to start.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has some of the smartest minds in basketball working for him, but even they may struggle to crack this code.
With the continued exodus of stars from the Eastern Conference, Morey joked that the Rockets staff is looking for a way to move the team to the Eastern Conference — invoking the Houston Astros, who switched from the National League to the American League prior to 2013.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) July 3, 2017
The Rockets have already added Chris Paul, and there may be more to come. Unfortunately, they share a conference with the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves, among others. They really do wish they were in the East.
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Daryl Morey, for one, is not welcoming our new Golden State overlords.
Speaking after the Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their second NBA title in three years, the Houston Rockets general manager scoffed at the idea of their supposed invincibility.
“They are not unbeatable,” Morey said, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe. “There have been bigger upsets in sports history. We’re going to keep improving our roster.
“We are used to long odds,” he continued. “If Golden State makes the odds longer, we might up our risk profile and get even more aggressive. We have something up our sleeve.”
It’s uncertain what exactly Morey and the Rockets might have up their sleeve, but what we do know is hiring Mike D’Antoni last summer to install an offense centered around James Harden and shooters was a huge step in the right direction. Houston now enters this summer with the eighth-most projected cap space in the NBA (per Spotrac), and adding some defensive pieces and/or younger talent may help the always outspoken Morey make good on his claim.
- Daryl Morey
Daryl Morey is the true definition of a ride-or-die general manager.
Speaking at a year-end press conference on Friday after his Houston Rockets were eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs with a embarrassing 114-75 loss the night before, Morey brushed off the idea that James Harden deserved blame for his catastrophically bad performance.
“To me, it’s a joke to get on him,” said Morey, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “The guy that’s hardest on James is James. Coach [Mike D’Antoni] and I saw him briefly after. We wanted to give him some space … You can imagine giving all the blood, sweat and tears he puts in. We’re all disappointed. But he’s No. 1.”
Harden shot 2-for-9 against the Spurs in the blowout Game 6 defeat, finishing with 10 points, seven assists, and six turnovers and causing many to wonder if he was dealing with some sort of injury. While the five-time All-Star guard enjoyed a career year in 2016-17 and carried the Rockets on his back for the balance of it, such an epic meltdown by a superstar player in an elimination game at home was nothing short of shocking. But Morey has always gone to bat for Harden, and that’s not about to change any time soon.
We often hear about ridiculous questions prospects are asked during interviews before the draft, but Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is here to remind us that some of the answers are quite entertaining, too.
On Wednesday, Morey shared what he felt was the best response to a question he asked during a draft interview. The player and school remained nameless for obvious reasons.
Best draft interview answer today: "Did you break any team rules?" "No, we didn't really have any rules…"
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) May 11, 2017
You can’t break rules if you don’t have any, right?
We can only imagine which player said that, but his former coach probably wouldn’t appreciate it.
Is that the whackiest thing we have heard from a pre-draft interview? Hardly, as some questions prospects have been asked over the years are downright offensive. Still, it’s a great response to what could be a tough question for some players. Perhaps the young man should consider a career practicing law after basketball.