1. Stone values talent over fit (at the moment)
There’s no doubt that, so far, Stone has been trying to hit the home run with sleeper signings. He has signed players under the radar and has been looking for players he feel can benefit the team in any way (whether it’s as a veteran presence or a player that has the talent to try and blend into the system).
Two players that come to my mind right away when it comes to this point are Victor Oladipo and DeMarcus Cousins. Demarcus Cousins was initially brought in as a veteran presence for Christian Wood, to play with his former college teammate John Wall, and to try and help convince Harden to stay.
Midway through the season, the Rockets and Cousins mutually agreed to part ways as the fit with the Rockets seemed questionable and Cousins wished to play for a contender.
Meanwhile, Stone said right after he traded for Victor Oladipo that, “You hope it’s a perfect marriage.” Stone then went on to say after trading Oladipo to the Miami Heat that, “We had organizationally made a decision that the Victor fit…wasn’t a good one.”
From what I’ve seen, it seems like Stone has valued talent more and has been willing to experiment in terms of scheme fit. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the approach has worked out well for the young players.
It may actually be the right approach when a team is in the rebuilding phase. It’s just different from what the Rockets are used to doing, but I personally believe that if the Rockets become contenders in the future under Stone, then he will start to factor scheme fit as more of an important component.
Right now he kind of reminds me of Texans GM Nick Caserio, as both GM’s are in rebuilding situations and are trying to hit some, “singles and doubles.” Either GM could hit a home run along the way.
Plus, not all of the experiments have failed. Kelly Olynyk has been a great fit in a Rockets uniform so far, as he has been playing near All-Star level. It’ll be interesting to see if he sustains his level of play, and if so, what are Stone’s plans for him when his contract ends this offseason?
This is just a side note – contrary to Morey’s reputation, Stone has sent off players on a good note, as in sending players to their preferred destinations (Harden, Oladipo) or paying their salaries before cutting them (Cousins). Though fans may not like this to the highest extent, I have no doubt that the players in the NBA talk to each other about how organizations treat their players.
This kind of treatment can go a long way in establishing a good reputation as an organization around the league, even if it seems a little bit harmful in terms of trades and team development.
Next: The biggest difference between the two