If you haven’t yet, take the time to listen to Bill Simmons’ interview with Daryl Morey from the Sloan Conference. There are some incredibly interesting nuggets. Probably not a surprise as Bill has always been on-point with his interviews.
The two points I wanted to discuss pertained to ‘tanking’ and trades.
1. Hearing that interview, in concert with other public statements made by Morey over the past few months, makes me almost positive that the decree to ‘keep a foot in both doors’ and try to rebuild while remaining competitive came down from Les. Listening to Morey, assessing his tone, I think you’d have to infer that were he to have his choice, he’d take the path of least resistance and sink to the bottom for a quicker rise to the top. He says to Simmons, regarding the ‘dual-approach’, that “it’s actually frankly never been done.” Later, while responding to Simmons’ supposition regarding avoiding the middle path, Daryl says, “we’re adding a degree of difficulty to our turnaround,” though adding “I do think it can be done.”
A numbers guy like Morey isn’t going against the odds. Reading between the lines, it’s pretty clear Daryl is telling us that this is probably not the way he would have done things, but that he is trying to do the best he can with the orders he’ve been given.
2. Simmons says that no team in the West stands out and that the conference is there to be taken. This is something I’ve been saying for some time to the incredulity of some. Since I’ve been watching basketball in 1994, this is the weakest the West has ever looked. Oh, there’s parity alright. But gone are those superteams of the past–the Kobe/Shaq Lakers, the prime-Duncan Spurs, the old-school Mavs etc.–that simply could not be beaten by the Rockets. It’s different now. And that’s what makes the Gasol trade so painful. Had it been allowed to pass, with Nene, this team almost definitely would be contending for the conference.