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Houston Rockets: Daryl Morey Excels At Free Agent Negotiations

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey is best known for his love of analytics and fights with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and spats with the jocular former NBA player and TNT analyst Charles Barkley. However this summer he’s developing a new reputation for being the man who can make the big deal. In fact, he was able to keep many of the players the organization tagged as crucial for their 2015-2016 season to return to the post season and improve upon the Rockets Western Conference Finals appearance.

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Several teams around the Association tried to woo away Corey Brewer, Patrick Beverley and Jason Terry all players who were earmarked as vital to return. The Kings tried unsuccessfully to get Brewer and Beverley to abandon the Rockets, but like many free agents this summer the uncertainty of what is occurring in Sacramento did nothing to encourage them to leave Houston.

Terry had solid offers from many teams including the New Orleans Pelicans considered a young team on the rise with a future Most Valuable Player in Anthony Davis and new coach Alvin Gentry who is likely to implement some of the strategy he used with the Golden State Warriors en route to their championship season. In the end, Terry cited the efforts of captain James Harden‘s pitch for him to return and the fact the Rockets are focused on winning the championship as keys to his return.

If any team has played spoiler to Morey’s efforts it would be Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers who successfully landed Josh Smith. In his case Smith was lured away not because of financial reasons, but because he wants more playing time. Entering the final season of his contract Smith wants to mount a case for what could be the final contract of his career next summer. In some ways this should be a relief for Clutch City fans as the exit of Smith led to the Rockets being able to nail down K.J. McDaniels who at 22 offers the Rockets a long term prospect with an untapped ceiling.

The other player the Clippers poached from Houston was a former Rocket who was ready to return home in Chuck Hayes, but with Montrezl Harrell still a priority to sign Morey had to let Hayes go. Even though Hayes was willing to sign the veteran’s minimum Houston really needed the extra money to finalize Harrell’s contract. Though it’s still not a done deal the extra $1.4 million will give Morey additional wiggle room and the ability to make a longer term offer to Harrell.

Moving forward the other pieces of business left for Morey to resolve prior to season start are the rookie extension contracts of Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas. These two contracts won’t be straight forward as the burgeoning salary cap due to the new television contracts offers a whole other issues to address.

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