HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – There is no other way to say it other than at times these past few weeks I had the feeling Rockets general manager Daryl Morey had lost his touch. His days in the front office seemed numbered.
What else can you think when the failures seemed so much greater than past successes?
But in the midst of unsuccessful draft maneuvering last month and his almost stalker-like man crush on Orland Magic center Dwight Howard, Morey pulled off the coup of this free agency period by forcing the New York Knicks to concede the fight to retain up-and-coming point guard sensation Jeremy Lin much earlier than expected on Tuesday afternoon (The Knicks had until 10:59 p.m. Tuesday to match or decline to match the $25 million offer sheet the Rockets had on Lin and indications were the obnoxious Knicks would wait until the final second to make to make their decision official).
Morey did it. He out maneuvered the mighty Knicks and then ultimately won the stare down that started sometime Saturday night.
Let’s give the man credit for not only be aggressive but most important being shrewd on behalf of the Rockets fan base.
We can argue for the next three years whether or not the Rockets overpaid for a point guard who had an unbelievable three-week run and that is really it. Of course the Rockets gave up way too much for an unrestricted free agent who at best is still an unknown commodity. As breath-taking as Lin was at times last season his game nowhere close to the King’s Ransom the Rockets are paying him.
But you have to like the way Morey went about his business and perhaps salvaged what had become an offseason of swings-and-misses for the Rockets Mad Scientist GM. Think about it. He lured the player who could be the most valuable player in the NBA in the next couple of years. Not even LeBron James will come close.
We’re not talking MVP but MDG (as in most dollars generated). In those few weeks Lin, a rarity as an Asian-American NBA player and Harvard graduate, became an overnight sensation and a virtual goldmine for the Knicks as he captured the imaginations of cynical New Yorkers, NBA fans across the nation and most important he was delivering the lucrative Asian market both in the United States and Internationally.
Most figured the Knicks would be foolish to relinquish the rights to the most valuable player since Yao Ming decided to hang it up. In fact, the Knicks had said they would match any offer for Lin up to $1 billion dollars.
Who knew a $14.9 million poison pill put at the end of the three-year, $25.1 million deal the Rockets offered Line would equal $1 billion to the Knicks? Morey did. He may have lost Goran Dragic and Kyle Lowry but Morey hit the $100 million Powerball with Lin.
Over the weekend Morey quietly tweaked his original offer of four years and $28 million that would have cost the Knicks $9 million in each of the last two years, which wasn’t enough to make them blink. But Morey’s trickery and last-minute maneuvering sent the Knicks running, literally, to buy time to figure this out.
They obviously knew the $14.9 million payment in year No. 3 would have been too costly (perhaps as much as $50 million in salary and luxury tax) even for a player like Lin who could be worth a fortune by then. Morey banked on that, too, as he finally landed the unproven player he let get away when he first had him in December.
Now, it’s the Rockets who stand to benefit if this quite expensive gamble Morey has made with owner Leslie Alexander’s money pays off. In this next few years while this collection of young and unproven Rockets grow up, Lin will give fans reason to come to the Toyota Center and be entertained and maybe even dazzled.
Unfortunately Lin won’t deliver wins on his own these few seasons, but he will deliver fans and intrigue from every corner of this earth. That benefit is immeasurable.
For that you have to give Morey’s vision and aggressive credit. While the franchise goes though the dreaded rebuilding faze, he has given the Rockets fans something to feel about and someone to get behind during a period that would otherwise be forgettable.