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Daryl Morey calls trading for Russell Westbrook his biggest strategic risk as GM

Rockets, Daryl Morey, Russell Westbrook

Many NBA aficionados viewed Houston’s acquisition of Russell Westbrook this offseason as a great move. However, when asked about the deal, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey called it his biggest strategic risk.

Morey recently sat down for a wide-ranging interview with The Wall Street Journal. Amid the discussion, Morey was asked to name the biggest strategic risk he has taken during his tenure with the Rockets. At first, his response was brief, but he later elaborated on his stance:

TWSJ: What’s the biggest strategic risk each of you has taken in Houston?

Morey: The one we just did.

TWSJ: So why trade for Westbrook?

Morey: Because even if we were literally the same team, I would take the variance. I need the top end of the tail to win. The bigger the trade, the more risk. He’s got multiple years at a very high number. He’s got a long track record of being very good, so that mitigates it. But you never know how the aging curve is going to apply to different players. We feel good about all these risks. They’re all smart risks. But they’re for sure risks.

TWSJ: You must’ve thought that there was something about the way that Westbrook plays that you can enhance here.

Morey: That’s been our big thing for awhile now. It’s similar to what has gotten a lot of attention with the pitching stuff the Astros have done recently. We don’t know exactly how it’s going to work, because you don’t until you really put it on the floor. But that’s definitely one of our hypotheses is that he’ll be enhanced here.

The Rockets acquired Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder this summer in exchange for Chris Paul, two protected first round picks and other draft considerations. At this point, it’s not clear how Russell will fare in this new setting. He’s been reunited with his former teammate in James Harden, so there should be plenty of scoring to go around.

Houston finished the 2018-19 regular season with a 53-29 overall record, which earned the team a No. 4 seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Unfortunately, though, the Rockets were defeated by the Golden State Warriors in the second round, 4-2.

Let’s see if Westbrook and Harden can lead Houston on another postseason push.