Ranking top 4 NBA General Managers: Where Houston Rockets’ Daryl Morey Lands
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1. Daryl Morey- Houston Rockets
Daryl Morey has been the most transcendent General Manager in league history, which is part of why he won the Executive of the Year Award following the 2017-2018 season. He’s grown to be adept at being fully knowledgeable of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and fully aware of how to exploit loopholes. The most recent example of this is the contract he signed with Nene, which turned Nene into a human trade exception. Morey’s creativity and brilliance is what ultimately caused this contract to be voided, which led to the question of whether the Rockets should have challenged the league’s ruling in court, as there has been a history of teams challenging the league and winning.
But aside from that, Morey has built the Rockets into a powerhouse, essentially from scratch. Morey took over the Rockets at the start of the 2007-2008 season, which was nearly at the same time former Rockets Hall of Famers Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady began to physically deteriorate. The Rockets traded McGrady to the New York Knicks in 2010 and Yao retired in 2011, which left the Rockets without any star players.
Morey signed Jeremy Lin in the summer of 2012, which was following the year of “Linsanity”. The Rockets were left without any other star players or potential star players, and were expecting Jeremy Lin to be the face of the franchise. This was up until they took a gamble and traded for former Oklahoma City Thunder Sixth Man of the Year James Harden. Harden had been in contract negotiations with the Thunder and had ultimately been deemed to be less important than Serge Ibaka.
At the time, the Thunder had just lost to the LeBron James led Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, Harden’s poor performance in the Finals made it easier for OKC to move on from him. Morey traded away forward Kevin Martin (who he acquired in the McGrady deal), Jeremy Lamb, two first round picks in subsequent years and a second round pick to get Harden. That move re-defined the franchise, as the Rockets haven’t missed the playoffs since acquiring Harden.
After the Rockets landed their star in Harden, they were later able to add former star center Dwight Howard. The Harden and Howard pairing led the Rockets to the Western Conference Finals in the 2014-2015 season against the Golden State Warriors, but ultimately didn’t land the Rockets a championship. Despite that, following the departure of Howard at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season, Morey added coach Mike D’Antoni, signed guard Eric Gordon and agreed to terms with forward Ryan Anderson. This was viewed as not being enough for the Rockets to make a significant improvement from a season in which they went 41-41 and finished with the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Despite that, the Rockets finished the 2016-2017 season with a record of 55-27, which was good for the third seed in the Western Conference and a much better finish than the Rockets were expected to have. This is why D’Antoni would later win Coach of the Year at the conclusion of that season and Eric Gordon would be named Sixth Man of the Year at the same awards ceremony.
At the conclusion of that season, the Rockets landed their star to pair with Harden, as they landed star guard Chris Paul in a trade with the Clippers. Despite the move being questioned, it would prove to pay off in a big way, as the Rockets went 65-17 in the first season with CP3, which was a franchise record. In addition, the Rockets finished with the top seed in the West and were CP3 hamstring away from defeating the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference and winning the championship
At the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season, the Rockets rewarded CP3 with a gargantuan contract of four years and $160 million, but CP3 showed signs of age in the following season.
With the massive contract tied to CP3, it seemed the Rockets would be stuck with Paul, yet somehow Morey was able to move him for former MVP Russell Westbrook to also pair with Harden. The Rockets have been built into a powerhouse with legitimate title expectations, thanks to Morey. It’s amazing considering the Rockets were without any star players not too long ago. This is why Morey is by far the best General Manager in the league.