Harrison Faigen: George Karl and Daryl Morey are here to watch the D-Fenders take on the Valley Vipers
Justin Kubatko: The @HoustonRockets James Harden is the second player in NBA history w/ 2000+ pts, 500+ reb, & 750+ ast in a season. Daryl Morey: If we might make someone MVP because they have hit a random combo of numbers then why not this random combo?
"It's hard to judge because it takes two. It's hard to know," Morey said. "I don't know if it makes it more or less likely, but the kinds of things you do are different. We are more likely to shore up a spot in case we take an injury. Anything we would do is more likely for depth." Rockets owner Leslie Alexander was even more non-committal. "We're always looking to improve, always," Alexander said. "You can say that now and for the next 10 years."
The moves marked an undeniable pivot. Sources familiar with the process say Houston's owner, Leslie Alexander, assumed a larger role in the team-building process, and that he was eager to rebound at any cost from the malaise of last season.
The moves signaled Morey's position may not be quite as secure as it once was, league sources say. The dismissal of Gianluca Pascucci, Houston's former vice president of player personnel and a Morey confidant, was widely seen as a shot across the bow at Morey. Morey says the decision was his, and the Nets quickly snapped up Pascucci after several teams expressed interest in him.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey defended his protégé, former 76ers general manager Sam Hinkie, during a recent appearance on Yahoo Sports’ “The Vertical” podcast hosted by Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski asked Morey for his perspective on Hinkie’s departure from the 76ers after team brass (and NBA officials) decided they had waited long enough for Hinkie to fix the team. Specifically, Wojnarowski asked Morey if he received criticism because Hinkie had become a pretty polarizing figure in the league and whether Morey was judged because of Hinkie’s struggles.
Morey on Hinkie: I wanted to take hits for him. The reality is, when he took over Philly, he took the approach that was best for the franchise at that time in his judgment, which was that the best way for them to get to be a title contender, given the roster where they were at, was to take a pretty strong dip into the top five of the draft. That has more of a history of success in terms of building a championship contender.
Sources say Jeff Van Gundy has received strong support from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to make a return to Houston for a second stint as the team's coach, but they maintain that Alexander has yet to be fully sold on a reunion with the ESPN analyst, who has been working in television since the sides parted ways in May 2007.
Morey has been frequently equated with one of his former employees, recently resigned Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie, who was hired in Philadelphia after cutting his teeth in Houston. According to other executives around the league, that’s not an entirely fair comparison. Where Hinkie was fully committed to playing percentages and probabilities while building a team, Morey has had a more deft hand when dealing with agents and other general managers, and with the personalities on his roster.
“Daryl is a guy who can understand where you’re coming from and work out something, be creative, be tenacious, all of those things,” one NBA team executive told Sporting News. “He approaches things with a lot of imagination and understanding of how to make deals work for everybody. With Sam, he was doing his own thing all along. It could be like you were speaking two different languages sometimes. He knew what he wanted, he would tell you, and that was the beginning and the end of the conversation.”
After giving general manager Daryl Morey a vote of confidence earlier this week in an interview with Fox 26 TV in Houston, Alexander said Morey will assist in the evaluation process to improve a team that crashed from 56 wins last season to 41 this season. This season, Alexander fired coach Kevin McHale after 11 games and the Rockets clinched the last playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. “We definitely thought we would have a much better team,” Alexander said. “We didn’t play well for the first half and we let a lot of games go by and also James (Harden) won a lot of games. It takes its toll on somebody.”
Alexander said a recent ESPN report that said general Daryl Morey “faces some uncertainty” about his future is not accurate. “There is no uncertainty,” Alexander said. “Daryl is with the team. We evaluate everybody, but right now things aren’t changing. “There’s no uncertainty about his future.”
Sources told ESPN that the Rockets believe every aspect of the organization -- coaching staff, front office and, of course, their roster -- must be subject to a thorough review in the wake of Houston's slide to a 38-41 outfit that's at serious risk to miss the playoffs after damaging losses this week to Dallas and Phoenix.
Sources say Morey, whose contract runs through the 2017-18 season, also faces some uncertainty in the wake of the Rockets' struggles. Morey's ever-bold approach to roster assembly won deserved kudos for bringing Harden (October 2012) and Howard (July 2013) to Houston in quick succession, but team chemistry has been a rising concern this season given the well-chronicled deteoriation in the Harden/Howard relationship and the failed offseason gamble on guard Ty Lawson.
October 24, 2020 | 6:02 am EDT Update
Marks: The players. Agents are bracing for the possibility of up to 40% of the escrow being withheld from players, sources told ESPN. That money would offset losses incurred with a lack of revenue coming in from home games. And from a health standpoint, 22 teams just endured a grueling stretch of basketball, both physically and mentally. I would think that players who finished the playoffs in September or October will not be happy that training camp is now weeks instead of months away.
NBA on ESPN: John Wall working out with Nets players Kyrie Irving, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan (via graydientvisuals/Instagram, klutchsports/Instagram)
One name to keep an eye on with the Knicks in the second round? BYU power forward/center Yoeli Childs. The Knicks interviewed Childs recently, per SNY sources, and those sources said Childs has been making a strong impression during interviews with teams who have picks in the early/mid second round. The Knicks have the 38th pick in the second round. The club has interviewed dozens of players, so the fact that they interviewed Childs shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. But it does confirm that the club has a level of interest in the 6-8, 255-pound big man.
Former Houston Rockets star Hakeem told CNBC that it’s always been Jordan for him, and apparently, his opinion won’t change when it comes to this debate on who is the most superior player he ever faced. “When people start comparing him with Jordan, then that’s not a fair comparison. Jordan was a far more superior player in a very tough league, and he was very creative. That’s not taking away anything from LeBron because he is a great player, but it is not a fair comparison because Jordan is a far superior player.” Hakeem Olajuwon, via CNBC
RW: Do you think the title with the Lakers puts LeBron over the top in the G.O.A.T. debate? Mike Penberthy: I don’t know if it’s possible to compare eras. As a player, the NBA calls the game differently from a referee standpoint and the gameplay is played differently in all the eras. What rules are you comparing these guys in? I think [Michael] Jordan was the greatest in his era. I think Magic [Johnson] and [Larry] Bird were the best in their era. I think Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], who doesn’t get any love, I’ve always thought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the greatest basketball player to ever walk the earth because of what he did from the time he was 15 until the time he was 40.
RW: You won a championship playing with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and now you’ve coached LeBron and Anthony Davis to a title. What are the differences in those Lakers superstar duos? Mike Penberthy: All four of them are different players. Shaq is a true center. A.D. is a freak hybrid. LeBron is one of the most dominant forces in transition and with his basketball I.Q. and ability to pass, dribble and make big shots. And then Kobe was one of the greatest scorers and greatest talents in NBA history, so all of them were different in their own ways. Shaq had the ability to make other people better. LeBron made other people better. A.D. and Kobe were more of the assassins of the group. They’re looking to score and looking to get the ball. Not that they couldn’t make other people better, but they were more valuable to the team scoring.
Mike Penberthy: The differences are really that they were all different players, but here’s the unique thing that’s similar. Shaq and Kobe were better when they played together with each in pick-and-rolls and in post-ups and kick-outs. LeBron and A.D. got better when they played together. When they shared the ball and utilized each other’s strengths. They’re much better together than they were apart individually. I think Shaq and Kobe came together to bring home championships and I think it’s the same for LeBron and A.D.