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Report: Daryl Morey left Rockets because he saw James Harden’s trade request coming

James Harden, Daryl Morey, Rockets

It was certainly a curious move when former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey left the franchise and then soon became the new president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. Months after his decision, it is now being rumored that he already had an inkling that James Harden would eventually leave town, so he jumped ship ahead of him in order to avoid manning a rebuilding team.

Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

Several sources within the Houston organization firmly believe Morey made a preemptive decision, departing in large part because he anticipated Harden would want out, beginning a rebuilding period for the Rockets.

Per MacMahon, Morey was already thinking about the ultimate fate of the Rockets while in the Orlando bubble. His concerns were largely due to the Rockets’ lack of assets and how that would limit the ability to build around Harden:

According to sources, Morey had expressed concern inside the bubble about not being able to “keep James happy,” due to a lack of picks to use as trade fodder to make offseason roster upgrades.

Morey’s prediction turned out correct. Harden demanded a trade and was eventually traded to the Brooklyn Nets a few weeks into the season after plenty of drama. After seeking greener pastures, the 2018 MVP is already seeing a ton of success in his new role of being a facilitator for the Brooklyn Nets alongside Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. With KD out of late, Harden is making his case as an MVP candidate.

Morey is also finding himself in a comfortable position in Philadelphia. The Sixers are at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 23-12 record, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Morey’s squad face Harden’s Nets in the playoffs.

On the other hand, the Rockets are indeed heading into a rebuilding phase. Houston has lost 12 games in a row to dip to 11-22 on the season, which is the second-worst record in the Western Conference. Victor Oladipo might already be heading elsewhere, and it’s unclear what will happen with John Wall.