For basketball dweebs, the last few weeks have been Morey-palooza. Eat Morey. Sleep Morey. Listen to Morey-house Morey-wave Morey-trap. Find a remote island, call it New Mauritania, and govern by conch-shell possession and small-sample-size offensive rebounding rates.
Of course, we’re talking about Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets and the patron saint of advanced metrics enthusiasts. Last weekend, he was a deity at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, a gathering of 3,000 number-smashers that has become an annual pilgrimage for representatives from just about every NBA team. His remarks at a panel discussion with Mark Cuban were thirstily live-tweeted. He knocked out a podcast with Grantland’s own Zach Lowe. And this week, Morey agreed to a four-year contract extension to remain with the Rockets.
James Harden plays basketball like a video game character: all 3s, dunks, and layups. About 87 percent of his shots come from either near the rim or beyond the 3-point arc. He’s great in both areas, but make no mistake — it’s his ability to create and convert opportunities at the basket that makes him special. He’s incredible off the dribble, in transition, and in pick-and-roll situations. He has a high basketball IQ that’s most obvious in the two-man game, in which he reads and reacts better and faster than almost any other NBA player.
I got the news of Omer Asik’s offer from the Rockets in an e-mail from a friend. The gist was that Omer, a restricted free agent, was getting paiddddddddddddddddddd — and to be clear, that’s “paid” with 19 d's. First reported by Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Houston Rockets and Asik verbally agreed to an offer sheet of three years and about $25 million (Asik can't sign the deal till July 11; the Bulls will have three days to match it), and as would be expected, the quick jokes followed. Instead of Dwight Howard, Houston’s new starting center could be a guy who scored 3.1 points a game last year. As someone who’s seen most of Asik’s 169 career games, the comedy was lost on me. In a world in which DeAndre Jordan makes $10 million a season, Daryl Morey was giving $8 million a year to one of the league’s best post defenders. Then I saw what he actually did.