What the heck is Daryl Morey doing?

The Rockets were in a weird position last season. Before the season started here was the status of the Rockets point guards

Point Guard situation for Houston Rockets entering 2011-2012 season. Averages from previous two season for each player. Numbers from the NBA Geek, Salary data from Hoopshype and Basketball-Reference.

Player Minutes WP48 Wins Salary
Kyle Lowry 2107 0.172 7.6 $5.9/yr over three years
Goran Dragic 1339 0.054 1.5 $2.2 for one year (Unrestricted)
Jeremy Lin 285 0.157 0.9 $0.8 for one year (Restricted…kind of)
Jonny Flynn 1663 -0.038 -1.3 $3.4 for one year with player option

The Rockets had one very good point guard, a mediocre backup, a good looking undrafted gem and a terrible Jonny Flynn. Let’s see how these four players ended up after the end of 2012.

Houston Rockets point guards at the end of the 2012 season.

Player Minutes WP48 Wins Salary
Kyle Lowry 1510 0.189 5.9 Traded to Toronto for Gary Forbes and lottery protected 1st round
Goran Dragic 1752 0.155 5.7 Signed by Phoenix for $30 million four year deal
Jeremy Lin 940 0.131 2.6 Played for New York, Houston has offered $30 million four year deal. (New York will likely match.)
Jonny Flynn 416 -0.012 -0.1 Traded with Hasheem Thabeet for Marcus Camby

Last season we might have given Morey some credit. I would have gone with Lin over Dragic, but hey he kept the top two producers. Keeping Flynn was seemingly a poor choice, but he apparently had free market value. The offseason is where it gets bad. It turns out that both Dragic and Lin were huge surprises last year. Lin because “no one” thought an undrafted player from Harvard could play well and Dragic because he had been mediocre up until last season. However, both in terms of overall production and per minute production, Dragic was the better player. Yet, Morey let him walk. He then offered Lin the exact same contract that Dragic wanted. Confused? It gets worse.

His trade of Lowry is simply baffling. First, Gary Forbes is not good:

Gary Forbes career numbers via the NBA Geek.

Season Minutes WP48 Wins
11-12 TOR 713 .037 0.6
10-11 DEN 793 -0.007 -0.1

In his first two season, Forbes has been pretty bad. Maybe, Morey is hoping for another Dragic like transformation. Second, Morey got a lottery protected pick for Lowry. The assumption is he wants this as trade fodder to go after a star like Howard. However, I can not imagine a lottery protected pick has much value. In fact, Morey stockpiled himself with such picks this draft. I assume his hope was to trade them. Instead, he came out with a bunch of mediocre prospects.

Playing GM

What’s odd is that in hearing Morey discussed as a GM I’ve heard a few comments on “fantasy GMing”. Basically, it’s easy to play GM in fantasy leagues or video games but the real world is harder. However, it almost looks like Morey is trying to act like a fantasy league GM. He’s trying to make lots of moves in the hopes of landing a star.

There are two problems. First, this isn’t a fantasy league where it’s easy to make trades with picks and we can assume we’ll get a decent deal. Second, you have to have a contingency plan if you don’t get  a star! Yes, you need a star to compete. The supply of stars in the league at any given time though means you probably won’t have one. Sure, it’s alright to swing for the fences to try and get one. However, if you miss, you have to have a backup plan.

Morey has completely gutted the Rockets and he’s hoping the pennies on the dollar he traded the talent on his team are worth something. If they are then he’ll be lucky. And if they’re not? Well, I guess it’s nothing new for Houston to be hoping for a great draft pick to fix things.


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