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Rockets Are Following Celtics Model Of Not Rebuilding

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey joined The Extra 2% author Jonah Keri on a podcast today to talk basketball, Chik-Fil-A, and the theories behind building a great team. Keri's an expert interviewer, and he lobbed a number of fascinating questions at Morey. I'd advise listening to the whole interview, but the thing that I found most interesting was Morey's comments on rebuilding and acquiring a new star:

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"There's several ways to get back to being a championship contender," Morey said. "One of the difficulties in our sport is that lots of good marginal decisions can't really add up to the title." He acknowledged the importance of All-Stars, noting that a team likely needed a Top 10 player to win a title, and then briefly described the methods of getting said All-Star. "One of them you mentioned, which is to be terrible, that has a low probability of working. One way is to do what we're doing, pretty much the strategy Danny Ainge executed in Boston. Even though we're winning half of our games, we're doing it with young players, with players that are improving. The idea is if you do it with young players, either those players develop into stars or you're in a good situation to trade for a star." 

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I hadn't connected these dots before, but it certainly does look very similar to the situation the Boston Celtics went through before they became a championship contender. Al Jefferson was developed into a semi-star and was flipped with picks and other assets for Kevin Garnett, and they were able to flip the #5 overall pick and Delonte West to the Sonics for Ray Allen. Granted, the Rockets don't have a star player like Paul Pierce to begin with, at least until Yao Ming gets a pair of bionic legs, but you can see the strategy at work here. 

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I'm assuming that avoiding the terrible crowds that come with intentionally tanking for a great draft pick is also a part of the Rockets reasoning for that decision.

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