Mark Cuban was ticked last summer when Rockets GM Daryl Morey called and asked if Dirk Nowitzki was available in a trade. That helped fuel this growing feud between the franchises. Then Cuban snagged Chandler Parsons from the Rockets as a free agent turned around and said this in a radio interview:
“(The Rockets) just have a different understanding and approach to chemistry than we do. Some teams, and that’s not just the Rockets, just put together talent and the talent takes care of itself. We think chemistry matters. When Carmelo came to visit us, there was no chance that we were going to put him in someone else’s jersey number and put it on the outside of the arena (the Rockets did that with Jeremy Lin’s number while he was with them). That’s not our style.”
Morey didn’t say much through all this as Cuban started to try and build a rivalry with the in state Rockets, but that changed when Morey spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports Sunday. The face of the Rockets fired both barrels.
“But let’s be clear: If the money’s equal between the Rockets and Mavericks, I think players are picking Houston. Every time. For Dwight [Howard], I just don’t think it was a hard choice between us and Dallas. If you want to win, you’re going to want to join our organization. We have a first-team All-NBA player in his prime [James Harden]. They have an enormously talented superstar [Dirk Nowitzki] but he obviously isn’t 24 years old.
“The choice was pretty obvious between the two teams. Dwight is the smart guy in this….
“Our teams have had great chemistry, and it’s something we believe in. Hey, if Mark believed so much in chemistry, he wouldn’t have busted up a title team for cap room. He’s trying to reunite a lot of those people now, bringing back the center [Tyson Chandler] from that title team. Maybe he’s got some chemistry religion recently….
“We don’t care about chemistry, but he busted up a championship team for what he hoped cap room could do.”
Know that this is about winning over future free agents as much as anything else — the Mavericks and Rockets are teams trying to land big name guys the past few summers, going head to head. The Rockets won the Howard sweepstakes. The Rockets have a couple core pieces in Harden and Howard but are looking for a third star (they almost had Chris Bosh this summer) and the right role players to go around them. It was a rough summer for the Rockets who traded away Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin for cap space then couldn’t fill it when Bosh returned to Miami, then they lost Parsons to Dallas.
Chemistry does matter but I think it in a lot of ways on the court comes to this: Do your role players fit in your system? Your stars will fit — Kevin Durant will look good in any system, but the Thunder are still looking for the right players to go around him and Russell Westbrook. Or to use another obvious example, the Knicks need to go out and get guys who are good fits in the triangle (not more J.R. Smiths).
Is that happening in Houston? I’m not sure because I’m not totally sure what the system is, it looked different last season with Howard than it did the season before without him.
There is certainly an element of Cuban being Cuban here — he’s big and brash and he had the better summer so he’s throwing a few punches.
But the battle of chemistry in Texas goes to… San Antonio. And it’s not even close.