On Feb. 10, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey took a jab at Charles Barkley on Twitter, saying the best part about going to a TNT game is you don’t have to listen to Barkley comment on it.
Well, Barkley responded with a roundhouse.
“I’m not worried about Daryl Morey,” Barkley said. “He’s one of those idiots who believes in analytics. He went out and got James Harden and Dwight Howard, and he’s going to tell me that’s analytics. Then he went out and got Trevor Ariza. Then he went out and got Josh Smith. First of all, I’ve always believed analytics was crap, and you know I’ve never mentioned the Rockets as a legitimate contender – because they’re not. And listen, I wouldn’t know Daryl Morey if he walked in this room right now.”
All right then. Mr. Morey, your thoughts?
“In our feud, I’m at 140 characters; he’s at 15 minutes of discussion,” Morey said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I’d say I can’t really talk. I haven’t won a title – just like Charles. At the end of the day, it all comes down to winning, and we’re going to have to prove it on the court.”
The Rockets (44-22) have done plenty of winning this season and are currently the No. 4 seed in a stacked Western Conference. Houston’s two best players, of course, are the ones Barkley mentioned – and the ones Morey acquired: Harden and Howard.
Harden is averaging 26.9 points per game – second in the NBA – to go with 7.1 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 1.9 steals. Howard, meanwhile, is averaging 16.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 32 games. He has been out since January with a right-knee injury.
“He’s one of the best players on the planet, so we’re looking forward to getting him back,” Morey said. “He was in practice today so we’re excited about that.”
On a personal note, Morey said he has been very happy with Howard during his time in Houston and that he hasn’t acted as advertised – which is a good thing.
“We added Ron Artest our last time we advanced to the playoffs and had a good run in 2009,” Morey recalled. “Everyone told me things about him, and he was basically one of the best guys we had on the team. I’d say the same thing about Dwight Howard. (Ever since) we’ve had him, he’s been unbelievable – very positive overall, I think. Obviously how it ended in Orlando . . . and him (leaving Los Angeles) and choosing us, I think the deck was stacked against him for pretty large markets to be negative about him. We only judge him by how he’s been with us, which has been great.”
The same can be said for Harden, who has emerged as an MVP candidate in his third season in Houston. Morey obviously hopes Harden wins the award, but it seems that some in the NBA – such as Golden State head coach Steve Kerr – don’t like how Morey has campaigned for his star player.
“I don’t think it’s our job to promote it,” said Kerr, when asked about the MVP race between Harden and Warriors guard Stephen Curry. “We’re trying to win games. We’ve got a lot of work to do. So if Daryl Morey wants to run his own one-man campaign for James Harden, he can do that. That’s fine. But we’re focused on other stuff.”
It might seem like a not-so-subtle jab at Morey, but the GM wasn’t offended – in part because he and Kerr go back a long time.
“I think we’re both trying to win games,” Morey said. “(Steve) and I, we’ve known each other. We both laughed at that one. He was asked a direct question about whether he was going to campaign for his guy, and he just made a response there. We think James is a great player. We’re obviously focused first and foremost on winning. I think Steph is a great player. He’s focused first and foremost on winning. It’s all part of the thing. He just got asked a direct question, and at the end of the day, obviously all of us both want our teams to win and our guys to do well.”