Daryl Morey says Rockets are ‘chasing Golden State’ and have to be aggressive at trade deadline
The Golden State Warriors showed some rare vulnerability earlier this season, leading some to believe the gap between the two-time reigning champions and the rest of the NBA wasn’t so big as initially assumed. But with the All-Star break fast approaching, Golden State again sits atop the Western Conference, and won its previous 11 games before falling to the Philadelphia 76ers at Oracle Arena on Thursday night without Klay Thompson.
The Warriors lead the league in offensive rating by a mile, and their 14th-ranked defensive rating has slowly, steadily improved over the last few weeks. They’ve played like the league’s best defense when Draymond Green is on the floor pretty much all season, anyway. It’s clear now that Steve Kerr’s team, fully healthy after a rash of early-season injuries and still in the nascent stages of integrating DeMarcus Cousins, are the juggernaut everyone one thought they would be.
Still, that doesn’t mean the rest of the NBA is ready to roll over, ceding the Warriors an unprecedented fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy in five seasons. Among the teams hoping to challenge Golden State? The Houston Rockets, who plan to be active in attempts to improve their roster leading up to the February 7th trade deadline and beyond, according to general manager Daryl Morey.
.@dmorey with his thoughts on the trade deadline: “We’re chasing Golden State. So we’ve got to be aggressive..If there’s something that could help us now, that’ll improve our team now, we’re gonna be looking at that. We won’t do it frivolously.” pic.twitter.com/ccM5Md3eNT
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) February 2, 2019
“We still feel like we’ll be stronger going into the playoffs,” Morey said on Saturday morning, per Mark Berman of Houston’s Fox 26. “But that’ll be with players getting back healthy, trades, pickups, things like that.”
The Rockets have a limited stable of attractive trade assets after surrendering multiple future first-round picks in previous moves made to immediately increase their chances at winning a championship for the first since 1995. But Morey is perhaps the most aggressive, innovate decision-maker in the entire league, and Houston will indeed be a likely landing spot for veterans bought out by their incumbent teams toward the end of the season. Center Clint Capela, integral to the Rockets’ identity on both sides of the floor, is set to return from thumb surgery shortly after the All-Star break, too.
Is there a single move that will vault Houston ahead of Golden State? No way. But it was only a year ago the Rockets took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals, and James Harden is playing even better this season than he did en route to winning MVP a year ago. Anything is possible in the NBA, and Morey will apparently do all he can to maximize Houston’s chances of dethroning Golden State before the playoffs begin in April.
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