How Morey launched Rockets to contention
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
HOUSTON — Daryl Morey had heard the chatter in NBA circles that his time as Houston Rockets general manager and unofficial poster boy for the next front-office frontier might be nearing an end if he didn’t turn things around soon.
But he paid it no mind because the rumblings never came from the man who had brought him to town six years ago: Rockets owner Les Alexander.
“I heard second hand those rumblings, and it never made sense to me,” Morey tells USA TODAY Sports. “Maybe because I knew Mr. Alexander had a lot of faith in what we were doing and was really an architect in a lot of the strategy, so we were executing on a plan and the owner knew it.
“I think that, yeah, if we hadn’t been able to turn the corner like we hoped, then at some point he probably says, ‘Hey, I’ve got to change horses,’ and that’s fine. That’s his right. I wouldn’t have been bothered.
“But he had a lot of belief in us, and I don’t forget that.”
Now he believes more than ever.
In less than a year, the Rockets roster has been transformed in ways even Morey never imagined. What once was a medley of mismatched players is one of the best collections of talent around. The Rockets hired Morey —then a 33-year-old, numbers-obsessed MIT business school graduate — from the Boston Celtics in 2006 with the hopes of breaking new basketball ground. Now they’re looking like championship contenders for the first time since Yao Ming retired in 2011.
And Morey, whose trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder for James Harden in October 2012 sparked the turnaround and led to the signing of free agent center Dwight Howard in July, is as secure in his job as he’s ever been after receiving a four-year contract extension in March.
Yet even Morey, who long had been labeled as the NBA version of baseball’s Billy Beane in this “Moneyball” era of pro sports, says there is a healthy amount of luck involved.
Morey never thought a team like the Thunder, coming off an appearance in the … [For more on How Daryl Morey launched Houston Rockets to contention, click here.]