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Morey Sees Rockets’ Roster as ‘Stable’
Posted By Alex Raskin On January 9, 2013 @ 12:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Veteran point guard Mike James, the newest member of the Dallas Mavericks, became the 12th D-League player to be called up to the NBA this season (through a sponsorship deal, such transactions are being referred to as a “GATORADE Call-Up”). It’s a trend that seems to be more pronounced every season, even if some executives have refrained from getting too involved with the D-League.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been at the forefront of this movement, and not only because it’s a way to fill in a roster. Outside of 30-year-old Carlos Delfino and 26-year-olds Omer Asik and Toney Douglas, the Rockets are all 24 and under, which means there is a need to develop talent at lower levels.
“I think the level of talent is the best ever, in fact I feel like over time as people experience the D-League they will see just how quality of play it is and the players are and we have had a lot of success getting players like Greg Smith and having our guys down here like Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Aaron Brooks,” Morey told HOOPSWORLD at the D-League showcase in Reno, NV. “The list goes on so its one of the best events of the year, if not the best.
“Terrence [Jones] and Donatas [Motiejunas] have been some of the better bigs in the league this year,” Morey added.
Jones has been particularly valuable for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, posting 21.2 points and 12.3 rebounds per game over his six appearances.
The issue for Jones — a first-round pick that is solid at nearly everything but not exceptional at anything — is that he needs a niche in the NBA. As Morey explained, being in the NBA is all about fitting in around a team’s centerpiece. The Rockets now have theirs in James Harden, which means Jones can focus on complementing Houston’s star.
“To make it in the NBA you do need one skill at a pretty high level and if you are well rounded with that, you are probably already in the NBA so generally sometimes guys will start as specialist,” Morey said. “Greg Smith was someone who really finished around the basket and then we were hoping he could round out his defense and rebounding and he’s really done that in NBA and that’s why he’s panned out. We do like to see a guy who has at least one thing that’s NBA quality.”
Smith is an interesting case study in what the D-League can do for a player. He had big hands and a nice touch near the rim when the Rockets first sent him to Rio Grande, but his defense wasn’t great.
Now Smith is seeing regular minutes behind Asik because he’s a threat to score and, through his work in the D-League, has found ways to limit his defensive shortcomings. (Smith has a very respectable 20. 36 Player Efficiency Rating in the NBA this year)
A quick look at the Rio Grande Valley stat sheet reveals just about a half dozen players who are within earshot of a spot in an NBA rotation. Besides Jones and Motiejunas, the Vipers also have point guard Andrew Goudelock, shooting guard Terrel Harris, centers Vernon Macklin and Hassan Whiteside as well as former Georgia Tech swingman Glen Rice Jr.
Morey didn’t anticipate adding any players at the D-League showcase, but he attended anyway because you never know what’s going to happen down the road. As it stands, the Rockets have 15 players on their roster, so unless they package a few players together in an attempt to acquire a big-name NBA player, there won’t be any room on the roster.
“We’ve been aggressive,” Morey said. “I think we are going to be a little stable now. We were aggressive until we got an All-Star to build around, and we feel like we have that with James [Harden], so you will see us a little stable, build around James and obviously we are going stay aggressive to improve but probably won’t see as much turnover as in the past.
“I don’t know about pressure,” Morey continued, when asked if there was pressure to make a move. “We are always looking to upgrade… We were aggressive and had more turnover than even I would have liked in a constant pursuit to get someone like James and now I think we are going to be a little stable with this group. They are all about 23 years old.”
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