The Houston Rockets are an organization hell-bent on winning a championship... and the Houston Texans should take note. Fearlessness in the offseason combined with a commitment to incorporate statistics into their personnel decisions have elevated the Houston Rockets to several deep runs in the playoffs. Their style of management and roster building makes Brian Gaine’s reliance on prototypical height, weight, and speed metrics seem barbaric.
In the last five years, the top free agents the Texans have brought in were Lamar Miller, Aaron Colvin, Zach Fulton, [NAME REDACTED], Rahim Moore, and Jeff Allen. Just let that soak in like SPF 150 sunscreen on a hot summer day. Except for Miller (and still holding my breath for Fulton), this pathetic list of failed athletes and wasted salary cap should bother you as a fan.
In that same amount of time, the Rockets have added James Harden, Russel Westbrook, Chris Paul Sr., Eric Gordon, Carmelo Anthony, P.J. Tucker, Ryan Anderson, and kept Clint Capella on the roster. This is a remarkable list of future HOF’ers and key contributors to playoff runs.
Yes, obviously the NBA CBA, number of players on an NBA roster, and contract flexibility permit for moves like these to more readily occur, but just go ask our friends in Dallas what it’s like when a general manager is afraid to make blockbuster moves in the NBA.
If Daryl Morey was the GM of the Texans, I’d guarantee you five things:
1. Deshaun Watson would not have been the most sacked QB in the NFL last year.
1a. This would be because Andrew Norwell and Nate Solder would have been inked to long-term deals in the 2018 NFL Free agency. As well, he would have signed Brandon Brooks to a extended deal after the 2015 season. An offensive line with those three behemoths blocking for Watson would have made last year’s offense nearly unstoppable.
2. [NAME REDACTED] would never have suited up for the Houston Texans.
With the colossal emphasis Morey has placed on analytics and statistics (the man studied at MIT), he would have seen straight through [NAME REDACTED]’s terrible size and potential promise.
3. These ongoing contract “negotiations” with Jadeveon Clowney would not exist.
Either Morey has shipped Clowney off to another franchise for a boatload of picks, or he coughs up the money to pay Clowney what he’s worth. There would be no standoff between the GM and the former first overall pick. There would not have been rumors of the Texans trying to ship Clowney to the Chiefs or Seahawks, he would have done the damn deal and not looked back. The word “stale” is not in Morey’s vocabulary; the waiting game does not work when you are seeking championships. You have to go take it. Morey would have nipped Clowney’s contract in the bud early and moved on as a franchise in either direction sooner.
4. Morey would continue the one-and-done deals that Gaine preferred
As we saw on Tuesday with the Rockets’ signings of Anthony Bennett and Tyson Chandler, one-year deals are not opposed by Morey and his front office. The Texans have started to popularize the “prove-it” deal with the metaphorical poker side bet of earning a conditional draft pick if another team signs the player in free agency the next year. Not signing Tyrann Mathieu may earn the Texans a third round pick in next year’s NFL Draft, and I know that’s a trade-off Morey and many Texans fans are willing to take.
5. Bill O’Brien would have less control over the franchise
With O’Brien acting as both the head coach and OC for the last several seasons, and now with no acting GM in the front office, O’Brien has full reign to steer the team in the direction he chooses. Sometimes it does seem that he is asleep at the wheel, but for the last five years under O’Brien it has been his way or the highway. Anyone who has crossed O’Brien has been removed from the franchise. Examples: Rick Smith, Brian Gaine, [NAME REDACTED], Ryan Mallett, and Ed Reed. Yes Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni has a significant amount of say in their organization, but that’s because D’Antoni is a proven head coach with years of experience and a robust resume and knowledge. This is O’Brien’s first stint as a head coach in the NFL and he hasn't made it past the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs. With Morey calling the shots, O’Brien would stick to play calling and player development; two tasks at which he excels at already. Since O’Brien does not have to worry himself with management concerns, he’d be free to lock-in on the football portion of his job more... and that sounds like a win-win to me.
This headless horse approach the Texans are taking into the 2019 season is almost unprecedented. This isn't Moneyball where less is more... this is the NFL where more is more. With Morey at the helm, the passive nature of the Texans would vanish and the Texans could maybe enter into a new era of intrigue and success.