The Rockets announce the signing of Jeremy Lin, eight months after cutting him. (Getty Images)
Judging by the response of Houston Rockets fans, a group that doesn't always rush to defend team GM Daryl Morey in unanimity, "The J & R Show" on 610 AM in Houston isn't exactly a go-to favorite on their radio dial. And judging by the contentious back and forth between co-host Josh Innes and Morey on Thursday, with an exasperated Morey chiding Innes for his line of questioning, Morey appears to share in their distaste.
Larry Brown Sports alerted us to the rather uncomfortable interview, one that pitted an impatient Innes against a Rockets GM that has made some curious moves with his team in the wake of yet another middling season that saw yet another pretty good Rockets team miss the postseason. Here's LBS' transcription of Morey's wearied rant, pitted at Innes:
"Twenty-nine out of 30 teams every year are disappointed so you can move yourself to any freaking city and make that same comment," he said in response to Innes, who pointed out that the team doesn't appear to be close to winning a title.
"So you're brilliant," Morey continued. "We're probably not going to win the title next year. You can be in almost any NBA city and you're going to be right about that, so that's a great comment," he said sarcastically.
Even if his line of questioning might be a little hostile — a major-league GM taking time out in the heart of a frantic offseason to go on record is nothing to slough off — Innes' analysis is at least correct. Beset by injuries, bad timing with deals, bad luck with shifts in strength of conference, or just plain bad moves, the Rockets have been floundering in comparison to their championship ilk in the years since their back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.
And, for a team that has always seemed a step ahead even after those titles — pouncing to land Charles Barkley, moving assets to grab Scottie Pippen, taking advantage in its deal for co-Rookie of the Year Steve Francis, latching on to Yao Ming and again taking advantage to deal for Tracy McGrady, then hiring enough cerebral talents to put together a 22-game winning streak in 2008, and drafting well with low-end picks all along the way — the Rockets always seem a step behind. Pretty good and nothing more, despite all the movement.
Morey, clearly, is attempting to change this. In going for broke in his move to either deal for disgruntled Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, or starting over with a litany of first and second-year players alongside guard Jeremy Lin, he seems to be working toward that Big Move every observer has had him pegged for since Yao went down for good in the spring of 2009. And for Innes, on July 19, to treat Morey as if he's showing up at media day with his roster all set? With the plan fully executed and all the pieces in place? It's unfair.
Now, there's a very good chance nothing much happens with these Rockets between now and media day in early October. It takes two to tango in the NBA, and the Magic don't have to be in love with Houston's offers for Howard, and free agents don't have to be smitten at the benefits a stay in Houston (Morey's quote: "you've got great weather during the season, you've got no [state] income tax, you've got an organization that's in the top five in winning the last 20 years, multiple titles, top defensively, always had great coaches, always had great players. It's a very easy sell and I absolutely disagree that Houston has any issues.") can offer.
Morey — who you may have heard is no dummy — is aware of this. You may not agree with the moves, or the ideal, or the plan, or enjoy the writing on his particular wall. You don't even have to mistake his activity thus far with achievement. You can't slough him off, as Innes did, as having wiped his brow after finishing his offseason work.
Come at Morey with that in October, not July.
(The full audio of the interview can be heard at Larry Brown Sports.)
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