Houston Rockets: Why Daryl Morey Can’t Be Questioned Now

Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has missed out on acquiring Jimmy Butler and it appears the Rockets will be standing pat, but does that really make his stint with the Rockets a failure? Should his reputation really have taken a hit?

The Houston Rockets have officially missed on Jimmy Butler, and will not be adding an additional star, as we publicly said was our ultimate goal. In the eyes of many, this makes one have to question the reputation of Daryl Morey as one who gets it done at all costs.

Are we sure that narrative has changed? The reality of the situation is Jimmy Butler would only have been here if he wanted to. I’m not sure it’s Daryl Morey’s fault that Butler wanted to have his own team where he is the go-to-guy. On top of that, the trade would have gotten done if Butler had done his part and gone to Philadelphia and told them he only wants to come to Houston.

If you feel that the Rockets perceived dysfunction contributed to him deciding against coming to Houston, that still doesn’t change the fact that he wanted to go where we would be the focal point of the team. The fact that the Rockets were even that close to landing Butler should be a reminder of the brilliance of Morey, considering that we are a capped out team without young assets to give up. For instance, the Miami Heat traded away Derrick Jones, Kelly Olynk and Josh Richardson to acquire Butler. The Rockets don’t even have such young pieces but if Butler would have committed to Houston, Morey would have had him in a Rockets uniform.

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People are now questioning Morey, but they shouldn’t be. We can’t go “prisoner of the moment” mode now and forget the fact that it was his willingness to gamble and trade for James Harden and sign him to a 80 million dollar contract upon acquiring him. Let’s not forget the fact that at that point, Harden had just disappointed in the 2012 NBA Finals yet Morey still took the gamble and it’s certainly paid off. Or what about drafting relatively unknown Chandler Parsons with the 38th pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft? The same Parsons who is not even relevant anymore after getting his payday with the Dallas Mavericks.

Let’s also not forget the fact that it was Morey who was able to get Dwight Howard to come to Houston and leave 30 million on the table to leave the Lakers. It didn’t work out, but is Morey to blame for that? We also can’t forget the fact that the Rockets current core was all Morey’s doing. Sure Chris Paul is coming off of his worst season in his career, but this was a big add for the Rockets just two seasons ago. So much so that many people, including myself, believe the Rockets were just a Chris Paul hamstring away from dethroning the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 playoffs.

Paul was a bigger star player at that time than Jimmy Butler is now. We also shouldn’t forget that Morey drafted Clint Capela late in the first round and Capela has become very productive for the Rockets. Or the fact that current glue guy, PJ Tucker, was almost out of the NBA when he came here to Houston. The role he has played while a member of the Rockets had not been on display until he came here to Houston.

Morey also had the vision to bring in fan favorite Gerald Green on the veteran’s minimum for a third consecutive season. At that point, Green had fell out of league circles and couldn’t find any takers until the Rockets came calling. Or what about Danuel House Jr? House was largely a D’League player and unable to find a landing spot on any team, having bounced around the league. The Phoenix Suns weren’t even interested in keeping House. Sure, the Rockets had a contract fallout during the season with House, but they recently locked him up for three additional years, despite being unlikely to be able to retain him.

The Rockets also made great moves during the season to add Austin Rivers and Kenneth Faried, two players who were on the scrap heaps and became valuable contributors to the Rockets when they ran into a flurry of injuries. The reality of the situation is the Rockets should actually be large favorites to return to the Western Conference finals, which is not to undermine the moves made by the Lakers and the Utah Jazz. But each of those teams will need time to learn to play off each other and build chemistry, which the Rockets already have.

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So while I understand we live in a “what have you done for me lately” world, and we are fresh off the news of Jimmy Butler deciding to leave the Rockets hanging at the altar, I’m not entirely sure that’s Morey’s fault. We also shouldn’t forget his brilliance and the role he has played in building the Rockets to be the second best team in the West despite the Warriors dynasty.