That’s Morey, at least partly. He would rather start from scratch than languish in mediocrity. (He has also since spoken out against tanking, saying it is bad for the N.B.A.)
There is an open question as to how radical the team’s ownership group will allow Morey to be. He made 77 trades in his 13 years in Houston, and his influence has made an impression in Philadelphia. In 2013, the Sixers hired Hinkie as team president and general manager, commencing an era known to Sixers fans as the Process. Hinkie based roster decisions on analytics and eschewed short-term gains for bigger, future ones. (Or, in N.B.A. terms: The Sixers tanked.) He honed that approach working alongside Morey in Houston from 2005 to 2013.
Hinkie focused on accumulating higher draft picks and tradable contracts rather than wins. While Hinkie’s supporters argue that the Process was successful because it netted the Sixers Embiid and set up the pick to draft Simmons, his detractors said his strategy was detrimental to the league. In 2016, Hinkie resigned. When he was in charge, the Sixers were among the worst teams in the N.B.A. Two years later, Embiid and Simmons led the Sixers on a surprising run to the second round of the playoffs, which only further entrenched Hinkie as a cult hero among Sixers fans.
On a recent podcast with ESPN, Hinkie spoke glowingly of his friend Morey’s willingness to make unpopular moves.
“That kind of being willing to do the hard right thing, I think, is the kind of thing Daryl will help with a bunch,” Hinkie said. “He’s proven with patient ownership that he can be successful.”
Under Morey, the Rockets never had a losing season. He often opted to rapidly retool rather than wholly rebuild, such as by swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook — “often” being the operative word. Morey kept the team competitive, seamlessly transitioning from the era of Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady to one led by James Harden. To acquire Harden, though, Morey overhauled the roster, trading away several productive veterans and letting others leave in free agency.
The Rockets made the playoffs 10 times during Morey’s tenure, including two trips to the Western Conference finals. But Houston never made the N.B.A. finals with Morey, and critics have questioned whether his approach can build a champion, given that other teams rebuilt themselves and won rings in less time.