Rockets News

Identifying the Rockets’ best path towards a rebuild

General Manager Neil Olshey of the Portland Trail Blazers and General Manager Rafael Stone of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
General Manager Neil Olshey of the Portland Trail Blazers and General Manager Rafael Stone of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
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Houston Rockets
General Manager Neil Olshey of the Portland Trail Blazers speaks with General Manager Rafael Stone of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Leveraging draft capital into a star player

Daryl Morey’s time as General Manager for the Houston Rockets was defined by his obsession with finding untapped market-inefficiencies. Whether it be the 3-point shot or small ball, Morey always looked to be one step ahead of his opponent.

However, perhaps the most underrated market-inefficiency that Morey took advantage of was the trade market. Starting with trading for James Harden in 2012 with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Morey was seemingly always willing to expend future draft picks if it meant improving the team in the present.

After all, why spend years trying to hit the lottery in the draft when you can just trade for someone else’s finished product?

Ultimately, this method came back to haunt Morey in the latter part of his tenure with Houston. As he continued to tweak the team, the draft cupboard grew increasingly bare.

And by the end of the 2019-20 season, the Rockets had over $80 million in cap space committed to James Harden and Russell Westbrook. In essence, Morey’s disregard for draft picks had improved the team in the short term, but hampered his flexibility moving forward.

Now that Stone is in the driver’s seat, armed with a new stash of draft assets, he could very well elect to go after the next superstar who becomes unhappy with their situation. But he must be sure to heed the cautionary tale of his mentor, and understand that every rebuilding method can yield good results, in moderation.

Next: The best approach

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