The future of the Rockets organization remains uncertain as the general manager of the team, Daryl Morey, decided to leave. In a statement released on October 15th Morey explained, “After returning from Orlando and reflecting on what has been an amazing 14 years with the Houston Rockets, and after discussing my thoughts with family and close friends, I’ve decided I’ll be stepping away from the Rockets organization effective November 1st. Tilman and I have had many conversations since I returned, and his unwavering support and counsel during our time together has been critical to our success. It has been the most gratifying experience of my professional life to lead the Rockets basketball organization, and I look forward to working with Tilman and the management team on the transition. I am very confident that the future – for the Rockets, and for our incredible fans – is in great hands, and that the Rockets will continue to perform at the highest level.”
The owner of the Rockets, Tilman J. Fertitta, made a statement saying, “On behalf of the entire Rockets organization, I would like to thank Daryl Morey for his hard work and dedication over the past 14 seasons. Daryl is a brilliant innovator who helped the Rockets become a perennial contender. I have truly enjoyed working with Daryl and couldn’t have asked for a better general manager to have at the start of my ownership. I wish him and his family all the best.”
Morey took out a full page ad in the Houston Chronicle’s Sunday paper where he thanked Rockets fans, Team Ownership, the city of Houston and discussed the impact that James Harden has had on his life. “James Harden changed my life,” Morey said plainly.
He went on to say, “An entire page could be dedicated to James. He not only transformed my life but he also revolutionized the game of basketball – and continues to do so – like almost no one has before. The game is played differently because of James, and on every playground in the world, the next generation of talent is studying and imitating his game. I can’t believe I won’t be able to have another strategy session with James. I loved working together on how to get his incredible Hall of Fame teammates Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook to the Rockets. I will be rooting for James to win a championship for Houston. It’s how this story should end.”
Though the Rockets team during Morey’s tenure did not succeed in winning a championship, they did end up with the 2nd best record in the league with an 8-year playoff appearance streak. Morey’s incorporation of analytics as a tool for making basketball decisions received widespread criticism. The positive influence of his methods are just as widespread. It could be argued that his methods of evaluation through metrics have influenced the way a lot of teams embrace 3-point shot today. For all the criticism that Morey encountered history shows that it was the Rockets team that he assembled during the 2017-2018 NBA season that went up 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals against the juggernaut, the Golden State Warriors. Morey never backed down in the face of a Kevin Durant era Warriors team. While the Rockets came very close, the championship title during the Harden era eludes them thus far.
The announcement of Morey stepping down comes on the heels of Mike D’Antoni leaving the head coaching position. With the vacancies and a strong desire to win it will be interesting the see what direction the Rockets go in this rebuilding process.