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Daryl Morey

Linsanity? Or Morey’s Insanity? — Houston Rockets Season Preview

Starting Five: PG Jeremy Lin, SG Kevin Martin, SF Chandler Parsons, PF Royce White, C Omer Asik

Key Bench Players: SG Jeremy Lamb, SF Carlos Delfino, F Terence Jones, F Marcus Morris, F Patrick Patterson, PG Shaun Livinston, PF Donatas Montiejunas, PG Toney Douglas, C Jon Brockman

Notable offseason additions: PG Jeremy Lin, C Omer Asik, SG Jeremy Lamb (12th overall pick), F Royce White (16th overall pick), F Terence Jones (18th overall pick), PG Toney Douglas, SF Carlos Delfino

Offseason subtractions:  PF Luis Scola, SF Chase Budinger, PG Kyle Lowry, C Samuel Dalembert, SG Courtney Lee, C Marcus Camby, PG Goran Dragic

What a strange offseason.  Really, there is no other way to put it.  Starting with the trade of former starter Chase Budinger for a draft pick, the Rockets made a series of moves that were presumably designed to entice the Orlando Magic to trade star C Dwight Howard to H-Town.  Unfortunately for Houston GM Daryl Morey (and Rockets fans), the Magic decided to ship D-12 out to Los Angeles instead.  Perhaps no team was more effected by this than the Rockets, given the overhaul the roster went through just to be in a position to land Howard.

In addition to Budinger getting dealt, PF Luis Scola was amnestied, PG Kyle Lowry was traded to Toronto for a “guaranteed lottery” pick, and PG Goran Dragic signed with Phoenix after Houston failed to match his offer sheet.  A handful of other, lesser trades were made, with the end result being a complete mish-mash of a roster.  We could spend a whole blog post dissecting all of the players Houston sent packing, but why do that when this is a preview for the coming season?


The obvious starting point for Houston is international sensation Jeremy Lin.  If you’re reading this post, you know about Lin — the “long story-short” is an undrafted and twice-waived guard from Harvard started getting playing time for the New York Knicks, improbably turned the season around and saved the coach’s job (albeit temporarily), and was a household name by the end of a Disney movie-esque two week run.  For reasons typically associated with James Dolan, the comically inept owner, the Knicks let Lin, a marketing sensation at least and a pretty damn good guard at best, walk for nothing.

Who is the real Jeremy Lin?  Is he really a guy who can average 18 points and 8 assists over an entire 82 game season?  Is he really just a Harvard-educated J.J. Barea?  We will find out this season, as the Rockets will hand the keys to the offense over to Lin.  If Lin can really play at an elite level, the Rockets may not be half bad.  My personal take, having watched Lin first at Harvard and then during the Linsanity craze, is that he can play but not at an All-NBA level.  Something in the neighborhood of his Knicks averages (18 points, 8 assists, lots of turnovers) will be the production the Rockets get this year, which will put them somewhere between their Best Case and Absolute Apocalypse scenarios listed below.

Almost every other player on this roster is in a similar situation to Lin — definite potential, but nothing proven over an 82-game season in the NBA just yet.  It would be impossible to assess this group as an actual unit since almost nobody on the roster has played together.  Instead, let’s just look  individually at the players who will get the most minutes and see what we have.

The other big free agent acquisition was former Bull Omer Asik.  Asik is a 7-footer who can defend the rim and rebound, but has never been asked to play big minutes (last yeaRead more...

The Life and Times of Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey

Daryl Morey is one of the finest young minds in the NBA. As the current General Manager of the Houston Rockets, he has piloted the franchise with unorthodox methods through the waters of the professional basketball tides. Morey has long been a proponent of heavier reliance on statistical and technological analysis when evaluating basketball players, tied in with  traditional scouting. Popularized by sabermetric godfather Bill James and Oakland Athletics’ GM Billy Beane through the novel Moneyball, this application of numbers and percentages to the NBA is a practice that many old-time basketball people said could never be quite accurate enough. Morey, a graduate of Northwestern University and MIT’s Sloan School of Management, has defied his detractors, as the Rockets have in his five seasons as GM made the playoffs twice and narrowly missing them the other three seasons. Houston has never had a losing campaign under his stewardship, and while there certainly hasn’t been a championship contending squad in the bunch, Morey has certainly mimicked Beane in finding and acquiring undervalued assets to create proficient, if not spectacular teams.

However.

For all of Morey’s ingenuity, his teams have fallen well short of any NBA front office’s goals, with all of his Rockets teams being middle of the conference fodder, at best. Billy Beane’s A’s have frequently been one of baseball’s best teams and though they haven’t been in the game’s upper stratosphere since 2006, they certainly were contenders for multiple seasons before that. Morey seems to be in a circular pattern of acquiring undervalued assets, but never quite parlaying them into the requisite superstar or All-Stars needed to vault them into the NBA’s elite. Rockets fans are continually flummoxed by players being cycled in and out, like a Manny Ramirez pill carosel. Morey’s moves usually go deeper than how they appear on the surface, but an end game isn’t always clear much to the dismay of Houston basketball faithful.

I can’t imagine being a Rockets fan. They are gifted with one of the brilliant minds in the game, and yet, are stuck in a perpetual circle of roster turnover and unfulfillment. Very little personnel continuity has been kept, with Luis Scola being the longest tenured Rocket at five seasons. At the very least, his incessant roster turnover in the hopes of striking a winning formula of players is fascinating. I’m still not sure if Daryl Morey is a genius, or a just a misguided nerd who follows his statistical sherpas on a narrow trail to nowhere.  I suppose there’s only one way to really find out: Presenting the Life and Times of Daryl Morey.
June 28th, 2007: In a draft night coup, Morey takes G Aaron Brooks with the 26th pick, and F Carl Landry with the 31st pick. For such late selections, the new Houston GM showcases his greatest strength – evaluating underappreciated assets and using the least amount of resources to acquire them. (Moneyball)

July 12th, 2007: Morey trades Greek import Vassilis Spanoulis and a 2009 2nd round draft pick (Nando DeColo) to the San Antonio Spurs for Jackie Butler and Luis Scola. Scola’s acquisition was amongst Morey’s finest, outwitting a Spurs management that rarely makes misjudgments. (Moneyball)

July 20th, 2007: Signed Steve Francis to a one year deal hoping that the former Franchise could come halfway close to the 19/4/6 line he put up in his five seasons in Houston after … Read more...