Daryl Morey is rooting for a team from ... Oakland?
The Houston Rockets general manager, whose Warriors obsession does not quite equate to fondness, told The Athletic's Vic Tafur he is "rooting for the Raiders" this season. The reason is even more surprising than the geography.
The Raiders won the Alpha Award at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston for "Best Transaction."
Trading Khalil Mack (and a second-round pick) to the Chicago Bears for first-round picks in 2019 and 2020 and a third-round selection in 2020.
"Everybody else thought it was a terrible trade, but draft picks are very valuable," Morey told The Athletic over the phone Saturday. "Analytics tends to fly in the face of popular convention pretty often. We don't care about what people say."
Morey was a member of the voting panel and co-founded the conference. When he called Raiders president Marc Badain to tell him the Silver and Black took home the award, Badain thought it was a joke.
"I had to tell him several times that I wasn't kidding," Morey said. "I guess they took a lot of heat for that."
That is an understatement. Mack finished the 2018 season with a half-a-sack fewer (12.5) than the Raiders did as a team (13), and made first-team All-Pro for the third time in the last four years.
The 28-year-old also led the Bears to their first NFC North title (and a playoff berth) since 2010. That means the first-round selection the Raiders will ultimately receive is No. 24 overall, which is far lower than the team initially envisioned.
Of course, that pick is now one of five first-rounders the Silver and Black will have at its disposal in the next two drafts. That gives the Raiders a sizable opportunity to reshape their roster in the wake of winning just 10 games over the last two seasons.
The Mack trade was responsible for two of those selections, as well as the Raiders' newfound silverware. Morey said he was told the trophy is on Gruden's office desk.
Whether any other trophies join the collection depends, at least in part, on what the Raiders do with the picks they got for Mack.