I would have been much better served writing this post back in July when the topic was fresh and relevant. But I didn’t, so now will have to do.
In the days following the apex of Houston’s disastrous summer, when the team lost Chandler Parsons after striking out on every major free agent, the critics came out in waves, celebrating Morey’s plight. Some of the assertions made were true. Many were regurgitated, the same things that had been said before the Rockets’ coup of James Harden and Dwight Howard in subsequent summers. One critique of Morey, in particular, has consistently been levied throughout his tenure.
It’s said often that the Rockets’ general manager does not value, or does not understand the importance of chemistry. This charge usually is made in hand with the one that claims he is far too active on the trade front. Not only is this premise inaccurate, it is based on an unwarranted assumption.
The thinking goes like this: because Morey makes so many deals, he must necessarily be overlooking the importance of team chemistry. If Morey gave proper worth to chemistry, and just let his teams grow, he’d see that they’d improve on their own. “How can these teams ever grow if he just keeps making moves every year?”
What the critics are overlooking is the ceiling analysis. I’ve used this analogy before and its more apt than ever: if I and four of my readers formed a team, just by staying together, we’d inherently improve over time. We’d learn each other’s tendencies, we’d gain cohesion. We’d ‘build chemistry,’ as they say it. But that doesn’t mean this Red94 team would ever win an NBA title. Why? Because the ceiling is limited. The five of us don’t have the size and talent to compete in the NBA. What’s the lesson here? Just because something can or will improve doesn’t mean it’s a goal worth pursuing. You have to look at the probability of achieving the end result.
For the Rockets, Morey keeps blowing up his roster because he doesn’t see championship upside in any of them. That Kyle Lowry-Chuck Hayes-Luis Scola team would probably be better this year than it was back then, had we kept it together. But what would be the point? They weren’t winning the title.
Now the question of whether a team of Howard/Harden/Parsons could ever win the title is subject for debate. But if Morey has made that determination that that team can’t ever win it all, then it only logically follows that he blow it up. If he keeps it together, he’s only wasting time. Several of you will possibly misconstrue this point, so I’ll reiterate: the Howard/Harden/Parsons trio very well might be good enough to win a title. But in Morey’s opinion, it is not. Because he chose to blow that team up doesn’t mean he doesn’t value chemistry. He blew it up because he made the determination that team’s ceiling wasn’t high enough.
The goal for Houston was to put together a team that had a championship ceiling. Had they gotten Bosh, they would’ve stopped tinkering. But Houston’s current course is not about an improper appraisal of chemistry. To say otherwise is incorrect and a misunderstanding of Morey’s thinking.