James Harden to Houston, Daryl Morey’s Live or Die Move


If you talk about the day to day work of a GM, there is no better in the NBA, maybe all of sports, than Oklahoma City’s Sam Presti. Ok ok, Pat Riley put together THE big three, sorry Boston, but one great move doesn’t make a truly great GM. In the late hours last night, while many of us were dressed up in ridiculous costumes, Sam Presti and Daryl Morey, Houston’s GM, were making news.

James Harden is a fantastic 23 year old player, but the sporting world is still divided on his value. Is he max contract guy waiting for his moment? Or is he a #2/#3 guy that is well worth a significant investment? Few would argue that he is any less than one of these. But, that hardly matters because he is about to be paid as a max contract guy with 5 years and roughly $80 million soon. Everyone seemed to think that Sam Presti would keep his home grown talent team going and sign Harden to an extension. Presti is savvy though, and he realized that contracts that big for 3 players is difficult to pull off, unless every quality veteran wants to come play for you for free, i.e. Miami. So Presti did what he does best, he secured his job and the future of OKC.

Over the course of a few days, Sam Presti and Daryl Morey worked out a trade after James Harden turned down Presti’s final offer of 4 years and $54 million. Presti started the bidding high and settled on a trade that I believe some GM’s would have used as their starting point. Presti sent James Harden, center Cole Aldrich, forwards Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. In return, Morey sent bench scoring guard Kevin Martin, this year’s #12 overall pick, guard Jeremy Lamb, a top 3 protected first round pick from Toronto, a first round pick from Dallas, and the Charlotte Bobcats second round pick. (Why is Charlotte ever trading away picks?)

Presti got the haul he was looking for by replacing one part of Harden, his scoring punch off the bench, getting a possible future Harden in Jeremy Lamb, and getting his most prized of possessions, first round picks. Sam Presti constantly preaches building through the draft and it certainly hasn’t failed him yet. So, kudos to you Sam Presti, OKC is going to stay a contender and will continue to be home grown.

We see a very different man and a very different trade on Houston’s side. Daryl Morey wasn’t always a risk taking GM, but he has definitely become one these last two years or so. He went all in last summer to try and get Dwight Howard by acquiring picks for very solid NBA players including Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. But, Morey knows that Houston has been muddling in the low seed playoff picture for too many years and needed a change, and clearly he felt it needed a drastic one. Everyone knows that Jeremy Lin is now in Houston and some know of Omer Asik, a true 7 footer that can change games with his defense, but is limited offensively. Two more risks. When you’re that far down the rabbit hole, why change your tact? He went all in with his job as GM and the future of the Houston Rockets with this trade though. James Harden is now Lin’s back court teammate and Houston’s #1 option on the offensive end. This whole team smells of desperation and risk…and I LOVE it. Will this team win a title this year? No, not even if they were given a 3 game lead in every round of the playoffs. However, Morey changed the scene and built a team everyone is going to want to see at least once. He created buzz and excitement in Houston, even more so than with Lin’s signing. This team isn’t great, but it is releveant, and it should be VERY exciting to watch.

Sam Presti just kept his job for 10 more years. OKC Assistant GM Troy Weaver just made himself the #1 GM candidate for any smart owners. Daryl Morey just risked his job to put together a team with great potential but also potential for great failure. And we all get to sit and enjoy from our recliners as the arm chair GM’s we all love to be.

About the author: Colby Rogers

Colby is the Editor-in-Chief, Founder and Lead Contributor to Other League. Also a law student focusing on Labor & Employment law and intersections with law and sports. You can find him on Twitter via @Colby_OL.