By Ben Golliver
The Rockets have reportedly agreed to lock in general manager Daryl Morey with a four-year contract extension that will carry him through the 2017-18 season.
MyFoxHouston.com reports that Rockets owner Leslie Alexander says that organization and executive have agreed to the "key components" of the deal.
"The reason I extended Daryl, I thought he's done a terrific job in his tenure with the Rockets," Alexander said. "I think he's somebody we want to keep around for a long time to help construct the team."
The Houston Chronicle reported back in February that an extension was in the works because Alexander was happy with Morey's work.
“His contract is up next year, I believe,” Alexander said on Saturday. “We’ll re-up him. Daryl knows that I judge him all the time. I’ve told him. He’s not shy about it, either. He just knows that’s the way I operate. Why wouldn’t I? The general manager is the one person in your organization you can really judge. He can make good moves or bad moves. This year, I think he’s made three terrific moves.”
Morey, who joined the Rockets' front office in 2006 and ascended to the GM position in 2007, is known as the face of basketball's Moneyball advanced statistics and analytics movement. A graduate of MIT's business school, he annually hosts a sports analytics conference at the university.
In NBA circles, Morey has cultivated a reputation as one of the NBA's most active executives. In the last 12 months alone, he has traded away Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet, Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, Samuel Dalembert, Kyle Lowry, Marcus Camby, Courtney Lee, Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, Marcus Morris, Toney Douglas, Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and multiple draft picks.
The knock on Morey, until recently, had been that all his activity wasn't producing meaningful progress. The Rockets haven't returned to the playoffs since franchise center Yao Ming's career was cut short with foot injuries and the team has hovered barely above .500 over the last four seasons. Throughout, Morey preached both patience and the importance of accumulating assets, and he finally swung his signature deal earlier this year, acquiring guard James Harden from the Thunder in a blockbuster deal. Morey and the Rockets moved quickly to offer Harden, who would make his first All-Star Game this season, a five-year maximum contract extension, locking in a true franchise player.
The Harden trade came on the heels of the offseason poaching of restricted free agents Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. That trio, together with second-round steal Chandler Parsons and rookie Thomas Robinson, acquired in a 2013 trade deadline move, represents a well-balanced, promising young core to build around. Riding the NBA's No. 4 offense and a fun-and-gun attack, the Rockets are also tracking toward a likely spot in the postseason. Best of all, Houston heads into the summer free agency period in a flexible salary cap position, with zero dead weight contracts on the books.
Morey also navigated an exceedingly complicated dispute with rookie forward Royce White, who sought an addendum to his contract that would establish a set of guidelines of mental health protocols that would govern treatment of his Generalized Anxiety Disorder. White stopped showing up to practices and games and eventually took his grievances public, leading many fans and observers to suggest the Rockets should simply part ways with the 2012 first-round pick. Rockets management essentially refused comment throughout the ordeal, which included a suspension for White. In late-January, Morey announced that White would be reinstated and join the team's D-League affiliate. Although White has yet to appear in a game for the Rockets, at least the possibility still exists. A four-year extension is no small commitment, but the NBA's most successful organizations in recent years -- the Spurs, Thunder, Heat, Lakers and Celtics -- all share a common element: front office stability.