Is Daryl Morey following the Danny Ainge playbook?

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For the past few years, the Rockets have been stuck in a rut of mediocrity — not terrible, fighting for a bottom playoff seed and either way ending up with a pick in the middle of the first round somewhere. Not a bad team, not a contender, just a team riding along in the middle.

Daryl Morey is done with that. The Rockets GM is making moves that could make the Rockets instantly very good (trading for Dwight Howard) but more likely very bad in the short term. Gone are Kyle Lowry, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Courtney Lee, Samuel Dalembert and everybody but Kevin Martin.

Either way, the goal is the same — getting the Rockets the superstar player they need to build around. Peter May brakes it down at the Off The Dribble blog at the New York Times.

Morey, who spent time with the Boston Celtics during the last decade before moving to Houston, is trying to recreate what Danny Ainge did in Boston to acquire Kevin Garnett. Ainge succeeded by developing young players (Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Delonte West) to the point that they became valuable trading chips in deals a month apart for Garnett and Ray Allen in the summer of 2007.

“It’s very similar to what Boston did,” Morey said. “Hopefully, it will yield the same result.”

Morey hopes to land Howard with that, or maybe Andrew Bynum from the Lakers in a three-team deal. If not, if they are terrible, the Rockets will have a lot of ping-pong balls in the lottery. They also have a pick from the Raptors next draft.

One way or another, the Rockets are breaking out of the cycle of mediocrity. And that’s a good thing.