Daryl Morey, in a bout of confusion over Dwight Howard’s free agency last summer, called a bitter Mark Cuban about trading for Dirk Nowitzki.
Of course, Dallas said no, and Howard actually signed with Houston. But story showcases Morey’s approach.
He’s about assets more than emotion.
Morey allowed the narrative about declining Chandler Parsons’ team option to center on searching for a bigger star. He used Jeremy Lin’s number on a billboard for Carmelo Anthony, because Melo is that bigger star. He has allowed two stars (Howard and James Harden) who’ve publicly belittled their teammates to set the tone.
To be fair, Morey’s strategy has advantages. He doesn’t get too tied to players, and his constant tinkering has steadily improved Houston.
But the Rockets’ way is not the Mavericks’ way, and Cuban went out of his way to make sure you know that.
Cuban on KRLD-FM 105.3, as transcribed by The Dallas Morning News:
On the Rockets making inquiries on Dirk in the trade market:
“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ He asked if we’d trade Dirk. At first I thought it was taunting, but now knowing more about Daryl I don’t think it was in hindsight. That’s just not his style. It says a lot about their approach more than anything else. They 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. That’s not our style.”
The Mavericks’ chemistry-focused approach also has its advantages. Nowitzki – despite receiving a larger offer from Houston – re-signed this summer. Parsons feels wanted in Dallas, too. That type of comfort can pay off on the court.
Really, blending asset collection and chemistry is the ideal framework for building a team. Both Cuban and Morey know this, but Cuban probably leans more toward the chemistry side. That’s especially valuable if his players his realize and appreciate it. So, Cuban is reminding them – at Morey’s expense, which also serves the double purpose of undermining Houston.
In emphasizing his emphasis on chemistry, Cuban is making strategic gains.