Daryl Morey Talks Lottery Reform, Tanking, Rockets

The NBA’s Board of Governors is prepared to vote for draft lottery reform later this month, and one person strongly in favor of the adjustment is Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey. Appearing on Howard Beck’s Full 48 podcast at Bleacher Report, Morey argued in favor of the proposal, which he described as just a “minor fix,” but a “positive directional step.”

Morey also briefly addressed the Rockets’ offseason, but the brunt of the conversation involves the draft lottery and the issue of tanking, with Beck frequently playing devil’s advocate to Morey. The podcast is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from the head of the basketball operations department in Houston:

On tanking as an NBA-wide problem:

“Teams have to go through cycles … What you want to have though is that when a team is in its rebuilding cycle, which every team goes through – we went through it after Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady – you don’t want them to sit around the table and be dreaming of ways [to get worse]. … ‘It’s not good enough to only win 25 games, to actually get the best odds, we have to win 15 games.’

“It’s just bad for the league that a team in a rebuilding cycle has to think about ‘Maybe I won’t sign a free agent because, oh my goodness, that might win us a few extra games.’ … When you’re down in that rebuilding trough, you shouldn’t have to dream up more ways to be even s–ttier so that you can get the odds at a top player.”

On whether the lottery reform proposal may give borderline playoff teams more incentive to miss the postseason due to better odds at the No. 1 pick:

“I think they’ll all choose the playoffs. We have teams in the NBA who haven’t made the playoffs in, like, 15 years right now. So making the playoffs is going to look really good to most of them.

“I actually think the problem of going from bad to extremely bad, and the fact that teams will have to take themselves out of free agency – which created a whole bunch of problems with the players’ union – I think that’s a much bigger issue than if you might see a team go ‘Hey, we’re going to win 40 games, maybe we’ll win 39 games [instead, to miss the playoffs.]’ You’re saying, ‘I’m going to give up $10MM+ in revenue from the playoffs and the down-stream [impact on] ratings and season tickets.'”

On the Rockets’ addition of Chris Paul:

“It’s very hard to improve a mid-50s-win team. There’s not many levers to pull there. The ones you can pull are generally you’ve got to get a top player, because if it’s not adding a top player, you’re usually bringing in a good player with some flaws and you’re replacing a good player with some flaws. So obviously adding Chris Paul was not a difficult decision.”

On the Rockets’ ability to contend for a title heading into 2017/18:

“I’d say we feel much better. We went from feeling not so good – which I think 29 teams in the league should feel like considering the Warriors obviously are the class of the league – to feeling spunky. We’re feeling like if we can pull this together, get our habits right on offense and defense, execute, that we can give one of the best teams of all time a very, very good series.

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