We expected some downtime before the NBA news cycle revs up again. We should know better. The moment it became clear the season is starting sooner than later, refreshing Woj‘s Twitter account every minute is a must. Here’s everything that happened in the last 24 hours.
Morey in Philly
The news was expected; the timing was not. Daryl Morey talked with the 76ers two years ago (when Tilman “Shut up and listen” Fertita purchased the Rockets) but decided to stay in Houston. After his surprising resignation, Morey put out an ad thanking James Harden and told everyone he would take a year off to spend time with his family. Two weeks later, he is polishing the details on a 5-year deal that will probably make him one of, in not the highest-paid Presidents of Basketball Operation, in the NBA.
In two weeks, the 76ers added Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey to their team, and that’s as strong as it gets in the coaching/front office department. The question on everyone’s mind – will this turn out to be a weirder fit than Simmons and Embiid? Doc was let go from LA partly because he didn’t shine in implementing the front office’s thoughts and their analytics department. Daryl Morey has a lot of thoughts, and they are all based on analytics.
No need to worry, Philly. Morey and Doc go way back from their Celtics days, and Doc was on Morey’s shortlist every time he was looking for a coach. The two have a lot of mutual respect and that relationship shouldn’t cause any problems. What about Elton Brand? It seems he will stay on as the GM of the team, obviously in a reduced capacity compared to the last few years.
Speaking of awkward fits, what about Simmons and Embiid? Look, Morey loves his threes and layups, but the word of the day is value. If there’s a guy that can find a way to make Simmons and Embiid work, it’s Morey. The fact the 76ers are a complete opposite of the Rockets doesn’t mean Morey will instantaneously blow it up. Then, there’s this.
The owners decided that having a full ’21/’22 (when we expect a vaccine will be available to everyone) is the priority, and this upcoming season needs to be calibrated not to get in the way of ’21/’22. From rumors of February/March, we got to yesterday afternoon’s call between the NBA and team GMs and Presidents.
If f you do the math and backtrack from December 22nd, players will have to start reporting to training camps in about two weeks. Most teams are eager to play basketball again, but the Lakers and Heat, in particular, can’t be too happy about this. Expect a lot of load management.
The Draft is set for November 18th, and the NBA said the Trade Moratorium (the period in which teams can’t trade players) will be lifted before the Draft. That means, unlike usual seasons, we will have trades before the Draft – other innovation many have been calling for. I say will have trades because a lot of reporting indicates a lot of deals have already been made. Call Tampering PD!
In addition to a baseball-like schedule, it’s expected to have a half-season break without an All-Star weekend to give room for making up games that will potentially need to be postponed if (when) they are delayed due to players testing positive for COVID-19.
Jazz have a new owner
The Miller family sold the Utah Jazz and Vivint Smart Home Arena to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith for a reported $1.66 billion. Former owner Gail Miller stressed the importance of finding a buyer who will keep the team in Utah, and it seems she has done that.
Smith is a lifelong Utah resident and Jazz fan. He dreamed of playing for the Jazz one day and was in their Junior Jazz program. Smith sold Qualtrics for $8 billion, so money shouldn’t be a problem in Utah. The Millers were one of the best owners in the NBA in the past few decades but operated as a small market team on a tight budget. Smith is a tech billionaire, a Jazz fan since birth, and has a chance to invest in a competitive team – for a Jazz fan, this is the perfect ownership transition
His first big decision will be Rudy Gobert‘s contract extension, and it will be fascinating to see if Smith is willing to go into the tax right away. In a year where everyone is trying to save money, it’s an edge a small-market team needs, and now they have an owner that can afford it
Rockets new coach
We covered Houston’s former GM, but not everyone is leaving the Rockets. Mavericks assistant coach Stephen Silas will be the new Rockets head coach. He agreed to a four-year contract, and a formal introduction is expected soon.
Silas is the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, and they become the fifth father/son combination to be NBA head coaches. His basketball pedigree, particularly working with offensive-minded guards, was important for this opportunity. As an assistant, Silas coached Steph Curry in Golden State, Kemba Walker in Charlotte, and lastly, Luka Dončić in Dallas.
As is with Steve Nash, given that this is his first time as a head coach, jumping into a championship or bust situation, the Rockets will work hard to surround him with experienced assistant coaches. John Lucas, served as director of player development in Houston under D’Antoni, and was a finalist for the head coaching o+job himself, is their priority. In addition to Lucas, the Rockets are also negotiating with Nate McMillan and Jeff Hornacek, both former head coaches.